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Cancer Risk Factors that are Hovering in the Environment

According to World Health Organization, 19 percent of all cancers are attributable to the environment, including air pollution, work setting, UV radiation and indoor radon. Take a look at the external environmental causes of cancer.

Cancer By Himanshu Sharma / Jan 19, 2015

How Environment Exposure Increases Cancer Risk

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer related deaths in 2012. It has been found that 19 percent of all cancers are attributable to the environment, including work setting and other factors. There are several agents, mixtures and exposure situations that are carcinogenic to humans. Air pollution, UV radiation and indoor radon are some of the external environmental causes of cancer.


Tobacco Smoke

Tobacco smoke contains carcinogens that put you at a greater risk of developing cancers of the lungs, mouth, throat, oesophagus, kidneys and bladder. Smoking ups the risk of cancer of the oesophagus and stomach because some smoke gets swallowed even passively. The exposure to environmental (second hand) tobacco smoke is equally bad; try to be careful of those around you to protect yourself from cancer.



Pollutants present in the air or water in the form of industrial waste or asbestos can increase the cancer risk. Air and water have many chemicals that may cause cancer. Asbestos exposure is linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma (cancer of the pleura). Leukaemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are some cancer forms tied to exposure to pesticides.



Radiation from the nuclear power and weapons industries and radiation from medical tests (X-rays) have a connection with cancer development. These radiations damage the genes in body's cells and cause gene faults (mutations). A single mutation does not cause cancer, but a constant exposure increases the chance that a gene change (mutations) will occur which could make cancer develop.



Pesticides or agrochemicals have the ability to stimulate cancer cell growth or cause mammary tumours. Some of these grow on food labelled as human carcinogens. It is advised to eat organic food whenever possible. Also, make sure you wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly before cooking/consuming.


The Sun

You can get skin cancer by over exposing your skin to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. The risk is greater if you have a lot of moles or have a relative who has had melanoma or non-melanoma. Melanoma is associated with exposure of untanned skin to the sun in relatively short bursts. Babies, children and young adolescents have a higher risk  of suffering melanoma. It is important for people to avoid getting burnt and protect the skin when the sun is at its most intense. Non-melanoma occurs by constant sun exposure over the years.


Workplace Hazards

Sometimes, it is the type of work that we do that can increase the risk of cancer. Being exposed to a cancer-causing substance (carcinogen) at work is another environmental cancer risk factor. For example – those working in chemical dye industry have been found to have a higher incidence than normal or bladder cancer. To reduce workplace hazards, there are strict regulations of working in carcinogenic environment.



Asbestos is a well-known cause of cancer, and is particularly associated with a type of cancer called mesothelioma. The pleura (covering of the lungs) is affected when asbestos is inhaled. According to the World Health Organization, approximately half of all deaths from occupational cancer are caused by asbestos.



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