Risk Factors for Cancer


The genetic material that controls the way cells grow and divide is the DNA molecule. When these instructions contained in the DNA are changed (mutated) due to various factors, cancer erupts. To ascertain the causes of cancers, statistical evidences as well as laboratory animals are used. Virtually all substances known to cause cancer in humans also cause cancer in lab animals but not all substances that cause cancer in lab animals cause cancer in people.

Factors that lead to gene mutations responsible for cancers are:

·         Genetic Factors: This is the minimal cause of cancer. When an egg or sperm with a mutated gene is fertilized to produce a zygote, a child forms from a mutated cell and will pass such on to the next generation.

·         Environmental Factors: These include chemicals used in the environment that are carcinogenic (cancer-causing). They include: asbestos, vinyl chloride pesticides, herbicides (containing imazethapyr), Formaldehyde (sources include the home pressed-wood products, cigarette smoke, etc) - has been named as a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for research on Cancer. Hair dyes were known to contain some aromatic amines which caused cancer in animals.

Others anticipated to be carcinogenic to humans according to the 2014 Press Release on the 13th Report on Carcinogens are cumene (used to make phenol and acetone found in fuel products and tobacco smoke), pentaclorophenol and its by-products (used as wood preservative, and 1-bromopropane (used as a cleaning solvent and in spray adhesives). Ortho-toluidine (used to make rubber chemicals, pesticides, dyes etc) was named as a
known carcinogen.

·         Food: Several components of food under severe conditions were found to cause cancer in lab animals. They include: Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharine, sucralose, neotame, cyclamate and acesulfame potassium,others are: fluoridated water. Heterocyclic amines(HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) formed when muscle meat are exposed to very high temperature through frying and grilling over an open flame or cooked for a long time are carcinogenic.

High temperature cooking methods such as frying, baking, or broiling can convert the asparagine in some foods to acrylamide in the presence of certain sugars. Acrylamide is a known human carcinogen which can also be found in food and cigarette smoke. High alcohol consumption could also increase the risk of cancer.

·         Radiations: From medically used X-rays, CT scans to home and work gadgets such as cell phones, telecommunication towers, nuclear power plants, magnetic fields, radiations are emitted. Despite the use of all these gadgets, over-exposure could be dangerous to health.

·         Infectious Agents: Infections from viruses such as HIV, HBV, HCV, Epstein Barr virus and Bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori and Chlamydia trachomatis increase the risk of development of some cancers. Parasites such as liver flukes and Schistosoma haematobium also pose as risk.

Other minerals and chemicals that are carcinogenic are lead, teflon and radon. Inactivity could also expose an individual to cancer.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          



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