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October 27, 2016 | Cancer Center
In the year 2016, the discerning American knows how common cancer risks are in daily life. Our genes, diets, habits and even some of our personal vices could all include potential causes of this devastating disease.
Often overlooked when discussing exposure to carcinogens, though, is perhaps the greatest threat of all: The environment around us. We can spend hours controlling what enters our body and practicing good habits, only for Mother Nature to rear her head in the form of environmental cancer risks we may have overlooked.
Fortunately, most of these are simple concerns with easy, preventative fixes. Let’s look at a few of the most basic environmental cancer risks and how to properly avoid them.
The sun is every beach-goer’s best friend, but make no mistake: it can be dangerous when absorbed in large amounts. Skin cancer is the most common form of the disease, with over 5 million diagnosed cases each year, and the ultraviolet (UV) rays transmitted by the sun and other artificial technologies – such as tanning beds – are by far the leading risk factor.
The simplest tactic to limit these risks? Avoidance. Stay away from long periods in the sun, and be sure to cover up with shirts, hats and sunglasses. Use sunscreen liberally, and re-apply often.
Another cancer risk is radiation, or invisible electromagnetic waves transmitted through the air. Radiation can be emitted from a plethora of sources, from cell phones to X-ray machines to power lines.
Whether natural or man-made, a number of other carcinogens exist within our environment. These might be a well-known household fiber like asbestos, a less-known substance like ethylene oxide (found in antifreeze and other common chemicals) or even secondhand tobacco smoke.
There’s no set tolerance to a given carcinogen – cancer risk will vary based on individual factors. For information on specific substances and risk levels, visit the National Cancer Institute.
“What Causes Cancer?” American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/index
“Cancer-Causing Substances in the Environment.” National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.