Heavy Metal Pollution in Sub-Saharan Africa and Possible Implications in Cancer Epidemiology


The increasing scourge of cancer epidemiology is a global concern. With WHO emphasizing that 40% of allcancer cases are preventable, exposure to known and suspected carcinogens must be discouraged. The battlewith communicable diseases and other third world challenges has greatly de-emphasized anti-cancer campaignsin sub-Saharan Africa. The abundant deposit of mineral resources in sub-Saharan Africa has attracted highmining activity with its negative environmental aftermath. Poor regulatory mechanisms have led to environmentalcontamination by products of mining including heavy metals. In addition to poor urban planning, the springingup of settlements in industrial areas has led to generation and exposure to more hazardous wastes consequenton poor disposal systems. Studies establishing close association between exposure to heavy metals and cancerepidemiology in sub-Saharan Africa are increasing. The current review assesses the level of environmentalpollution by heavy metals in sub-Saharan Africa, and brings to the fore available evidence implicating such inthe increasing cancer epidemiology in the sub-continent.