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

  • Fasinu, Pius Sedowhe (Division of Pharmacology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital) ;
  • Orisakwe, Orish Ebere (Toxicology Unit, Clinical Pharmacy Faculty of Pharmacy University of PortHarcourt Rivers State)
  • Published : 2013.06.30


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


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