A carcinogen is a term for any cancer-causing agent. It might be something in the air, like pollution, or a product you use regularly. It could also be chemicals found in food and drink. So next time you see the word “carcinogen” in the news, pay attention to how it might affect your daily life.
Though you may have come in contact with a cancer-causing agent, that does not mean it will surely lead to cancer. Your likelihood of becoming ill depends on various conditions. The duration of your exposure is one factor. Another would be genetics.
To discover if a substance may cause health issues, researchers look at multiple studies and the effects of large doses given to laboratory animals. These studies help guide public health decisions, like issuing warnings or banning a product. Here are some of the most concerning carcinogens to be aware of.
This naturally occurring fibre was used in insulation, flooring, and other construction materials. Unfortunately, it is now known to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other health problems. Mesothelioma is a particularly aggressive cancer with a very poor prognosis. Therefore, if you have been exposed to asbestos, monitoring your health closely and seeing a doctor at the first sign of any symptoms is important.
Mesothelioma is a cancer created by exposure to asbestos fibres. These fibres can be inhaled or swallowed and trapped in the stomach lining. Over time, the fibres damage cell DNA, which causes cancer cells to grow. Cancer cells grow quickly, but treatment can help to slow their growth by destroying cancer cells.
Cigarette smoke contains more than 70 known carcinogens, including arsenic, benzene, and formaldehyde. These toxic chemicals damage the DNA in your cells, which can lead to cancer.
Cigarette smoking is the primary cause of avertible death in the United States. It causes about one in every five deaths. In addition, smoking harms every organ in your body, as well as your heart, lungs, blood vessels, reproductive organs, and more. Smoking causes about 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and women. It also causes cancer of the larynx, pharynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas. And if you want to avoid smoking, other tobacco products like dip/chewing tobacco and e-cigs/vapes are not healthy alternatives, as they come with similar risks.
Although the adverse health effects of alcohol are not often immediately noticeable, long-term heavy drinking can lead to serious diseases. For Instance, drinking alcohol is linked to an increased risk of cancer. The more you drink, the greater your risk. Alcohol can cause mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and rectum cancer.
When you drink alcohol, it causes changes in your body that can lead to cancer. These changes can damage the DNA in your cells. Drinking alcohol can also increase your risk of other health issues, such as breast cancer. So if you’re concerned about your cancer risk, it’s best to avoid alcohol or drink in moderation.
According to Hematologist-Oncologist Dr. Eduardo Fernandez, nitrates and nitrites found in processed meats – like sausage, hot dogs, or deli meats – can be very harmful to our gastrointestinal system. Once they reach the gut, they’re converted into a compound that’s damaging to the cells in the gut lining. With enough time, this damage develops into cancer of either the stomach or colorectal regions.
Only some nitrates are good for you. For Instance, nitrates found in vegetables such as spinach, beets, and carrots can prevent the formation of harmful compounds when paired with antioxidants.
You can improve your health by consuming less processed and red meats and instead incorporating more lean meats and fish into your diet. Always check the ingredients on meat packages for terms such as nitrate, nitrite, cured, or salted before you purchase them.
While spending time in the sun can feel good and provide some health benefits, too much exposure can harm your skin. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can cause skin cancer.
You can reduce your risk of skin diseases by protecting your skin from the sun. This includes wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, wearing protective clothing and staying under the shade when possible. It would help if you also avoid tanning beds, as they emit UV radiation that can damage your skin and lead to cancer.
Common warning signs of skin cancer include wounds that won’t heal or skin spots that grow or bleed. You should do a self-check every month to look for these abnormalities.
Air pollution is a combination of particles and gases that can reach harmful levels outside and indoors. Fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5, is the primary type of pollution we worry about regarding air quality. PM2.5 is tiny – about 100 times smaller than a grain of sand. It comprises various components, including dust, pollen, smoke, and soot. These particles can get into your lungs and cause problems like lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
You can save yourself from the harmful reaction of air pollution by staying indoors when the air quality is poor, wearing a mask when you go outside, and avoiding areas with heavy traffic.
Engine exhaust is a leading source of pollution, and it’s made up of various harmful compounds, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. Exposure to engine exhaust has been linked to a growing risk of cancer, including lung cancer. It’s also been linked to other health problems, such as respiratory problems and heart disease.
You can reduce your exposure to engine exhaust by avoiding areas with heavy traffic, such as highways and city streets. You can also reduce your exposure by taking public transportation or carpooling.
To improve your health, avoid sitting idle in traffic or spending time next to diesel-powered vehicles. If this can’t be avoided because of your job, follow workplace safety guidelines.
Unfortunately, we are surrounded by carcinogens. But we can do a few things to protect ourselves from their harmful effects. By making smart choices and being aware of the dangers around us, we can reduce our risk of developing cancer. See your doctor immediately if you suspect you have been exposed to a carcinogen. Early diagnosis and treatment is the key to a successful outcome.