Petrochemical complexes and oil refineries are well known sources of a wide range of environmental pollutants. Consequently, the potential harmful health effects of living near these facilities is a topic of concern among the population living in the neighborhood. Anyhow, the number of studies carried out on this issue is rather limited and, in some cases, results are even slightly contradictory. The present Review was aimed at assessing whether living in the vicinity of petrochemical industries and oil refineries is associated with a higher incidence of cancer and cancer mortality. In this sense, up to 23 investigations were found in PubMed and Scopus databases. According to the type of cancer, leukemia and other hematological malignancies were reported as the main types of cancer for populations living in the neighborhood of petrochemical industries. This was concluded based on studies performed in Taiwan, Spain, United Kingdom, Italy and Nigeria. In contrast, no association was found in 4 different investigations conducted in Sweden, Finland and USA with the same purpose. Other scientific studies reported a high incidence of lung and bladder cancer in Taiwan, Italy and USA, as well as an excess mortality of bone, brain, liver, pleural, larynx and pancreas cancers in individuals living near petrochemical complexes from Taiwan, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom and USA. Thus, human exposure to certain carcinogenic pollutants emitted from petrochemical industries might increase the incidence of some cancers and cancer mortality. Anyway, since the limited number of investigations conducted until now, further studies are required in order to corroborate -in a more generalized way-this conclusion.
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