Causes & risk factors of cancer 

All the causes of cancer is still unknown. However, there are numerous agents which have been shown to cause cancer like –

  • Tobacco
  • UV radiations
  • Asbestos

Most of the type of cancer share the risk factors –

  • 10% of cancers and 20% of cancer deaths are due to smoking.
  • 3% of cancer is related to consumption of alcohol.
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Faulty diet
  • Genetics / Inherited faulty gene

Sometimes cancer may also develop without any cause.

Cancer may be caused in case any of family member also had cancer. It is generally because of –

  • Similar food and lifestyle habits (eating and smoking)
  • Inherited faulty gene that causes cancer.
  • Just by chance

How to know you have chance of developing cancer if someone in your family also has cancer ?

  • Look at number of blood relatives who had cancer.
  • Age at which the cancer is developed among the family members.
  • Pattern of cancer in the family.

Types of family cancer –

  • Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
  • Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (known as HNPCC)
  • Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer
  • Neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2)
  • Von Hippel Lindau syndrome (VHL)
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Melanoma
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1)
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2)

Genetic testing-

Genetic testing is the testing of a persons genes. In this technique faulty genes is tested based on strong family history of cancer and the age at which they develop cancer.

Environmental Causes – 

There are some environmental causes which are responsible for causing cancer. These may be biological (viruses or bacteria), physical (UV and x-rays), and some carcinogen chemicals.

Proven risk

  • Smoking
  • Air pollution
  • Solarium tanning
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Deliberate exposure to sunlight
  • Excessive exposure to some of the chemicals.

Likely risk-

  • Smoking marijuana
  • Chemicals in processed meat

Inferred risk –

  • Use of hair dyes
  • Living near power lines

Unknown carcinogen risk –

  • Mobile phone use
  • Sodium lauryl sulphate in cosmetics

Unlikely risk –

  • Drinking coffee
  • Consuming artificial sweetener
  • Using deodorants
  • Dental fillings
  • Breast implants

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