Climate, air, and weather influences on cancer deaths

Start date: 11/2020
Projektende: 11/2021
Funding:Intramural Research Funding of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Augsburg
Project responsibility on site: Patrick Olschewski, Prof. Dr. Elke Hertig


The impact of weather events and air pollutants on health has been demonstrated in numerous studies. For example, the work of Hertig et al. (2019) found that moderate to high levels of ozone were associated with increasing rates of heart attacks in the Augsburg region. Cancers are among the leading causes of death. However, whether these are also affected by the effects of extreme weather events or polluted air has rarely been the subject of research. In clinical practice, subjectively, a periodic-temporal accumulation of cancer deaths is noticed again and again, which has not been explained so far, which makes the influence of environmental influences on the time of death seem possible.

In the present project, therefore, influences of climatic and air-hygienic parameters as well as of weather and climatic conditions on deaths due to cancer will be investigated on the basis of the cancer registry of the UK Augsburg. The cancer registry, which has been comprehensively maintained since 2000 and contains the data of about 12,000 patients treated at the hospital per year, makes it possible to analyze pseudonymized or anonymized data on, among other things, diagnoses, sex and age of the patients, date of diagnosis and date of death for the last 20 years at the UK Augsburg with regard to possible climatic and air-hygienic correlations on a daily basis. This register, as well as the weather and air quality data (e.g. daily measurement data of meteorological variables such as air temperature, air pressure, humidity and sunshine duration, air pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter) of the German Weather Service and the Bavarian State Office for the Environment, respectively,  form a very good data basis for researching this topic.

Among other things, the following questions are to be clarified: Can differences be determined with regard to gender and age of the patients? Which cancer patients are particularly susceptible to weather and air pollutants? Are there seasonal differences in patient mortality? What is the difference between overall mortality in Augsburg and cancer patients during extreme weather and air pollutant levels - i.e., are severely ill individuals disproportionately affected? Are there tumor entity-dependent trends?


Project responsibility:

Prof. Dr. Elke Hertig, Chair of Regional Climate Change and Health, Medical Faculty of the University of Augsburg.

Prof. Dr. Martin Trepel, II Medical Clinic or Interdisciplinary Cancer Center of the University Hospital Augsburg.



Olschewski, Patrick, Kaspar-Ott, Irena, Koller, Stephanie, Schenkirsch, Gerhard, Trepel, Martin, Hertig, Elke (2021): Associations between weather, air quality and moderate extreme cancer-related mortality events in Augsburg, Southern Germany. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(22), 11737.