When it comes to the leading cause of death, cancer poses a substantial threat. Heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, and respiratory diseases are among the top causes of death in the United States. (1)
Cancer is a result of damage or genetic mutations to our DNA and may occur anywhere in the body. Cancers most common for women are breast cancer, while prostate cancer is more common for men. (2) Cancer is a complex group of diseases with several potential causes. That’s why it’s important to learn more about the known and possible causes of cancer.
Common Forms of Cancer
Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body, and can occur almost anywhere in the human body. In all forms of cancer, some of the body’s cells will begin to divide without stopping resulting in spreading to surrounding tissues.
There are 5 main categories of cancer:
Carcinoma- begins in the skin or tissues that line the internal organs.
Sarcoma- develops in the bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, or other connective tissues.
Lymphoma- develops in the immune system.
Leukemia- begins in the blood and bone marrow.
Central nervous system cancer- develops in the brain and spinal cord. (2)
Carcinogens Linked to Cancer
Some cancers are out of our control because genetic defects passed down between generations determine them. What’s most alarming is that certain substances that we inhale, ingest, and use daily are linked to cancer. Some even pose the risk of developing into the most deadly cancers.
It’s true, sugar doesn’t make cancer grow faster, but large amounts of sugar consumption may be associated with an increased risk of specific cancers such as esophageal cancer. Not to mention, increased sugar intake can also lead to weight gain. Weight gain increases the likelihood of obesity and the risk of diabetes which can increase the risk for cancer. (3)
2. Processed Foods
When it comes to highly processed foods, a greater consumption of these products has been associated with breast cancer. While it may be great that the plastic wrappers on these products allow products to last for months, it can also lead to a higher risk of cancer. (4)
For years the tobacco industry has tried to cover up the idea that tobacco has at least 70 cancer-causing chemicals. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that not only smokers are at risk. Those who inhale secondhand smoke are at risk too. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke increase their risk of lung cancer by 20-30%. (5, 6, 7)
4. Sun Exposure
If you’ve used a tanning bed and are under the age of 35, the risk posed for developing melanoma increases by 75%. It’s no wonder sun-protective clothing, sunscreen, and utilizing shaded areas are beneficial when exposed often to the outdoors. (8)
5. Exposure to Toxic Chemicals at Work
Aluminum workers, painters, rubber manufacturers, and even hair and nail salon workers are exposed to cancer-causing substances. In those circumstances, it’s impossible to avoid inhaling dangerous fumes and carcinogens such as dyes, and carcinogen benzene daily. (9)
Heavy or regular consumption of alcohol increases your chance of developing several types of cancer. The more regularly a person drinks, even if it’s only one drink per day, increases the risk of cancers such as esophageal, liver, and breast cancers. (10)
7. Diesel Exhaust
With over 40 toxic air contaminants, including cancer-causing toxins, emitted from fumes, inhaling these carcinogenic diesel fumes may increase your chance of lung cancer. (11, 12)