7 Cancer-Causing Environmental Carcinogens

Cancer is a disease that affects many people and also many different parts of the body. Some causes can be more obviously linked than others. For example, smoking or chewing tobacco can lead to the development of throat, lung or mouth cancers. However, there are several other factors that could lead to cancer developing.

Our environments have a tremendous impact on our health, mentally and physically. Some elements of our environments can also be cancer-causing. Knowing what to look for can help you make better choices in preventing cancer and improving your health. Here are 7 cancer-causing environmental carcinogens to watch out for.

1. Secondhand Tobacco Smoke

Even if you never smoke cigarettes, being around them can still be harmful to your body. Also referred to as passive or involuntary smoke, secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke coming from the actual cigarette and the exhaled smoke from the smoker. This smoke has over 5,000 recognized chemicals. Even the smallest level of exposure to secondhand smoke can introduce these chemicals into your system.

2. Arsenic

Typically associated with just being a poison, arsenic can be potentially cancer-causing. This natural compound can be found in soil, water and even air once it has been released by agricultural processes. Continued ingestion can lead to bladder cancer as well as other areas in the digestive tract like the kidney and liver.

3. Power Lines

It might be surprising but the power lines we pass by can be potentially dangerous in more ways than one. The lines radiate electromagnetic fields (EMF) that have been linked to breast cancer and brain tumors.

4. Radon

Unbeknownst to many people, we breathe in radon, a radioactive gas, on a daily basis. This gas can seep into our homes and workplaces via windows or cracks in foundation. Over time, the gas begins pooling inside a building. Typically, lower levels like basements have the highest concentration of radon. This gas has been linked to both lung cancer and leukemia.

5. Coal/Coal Tar

Once coal is distilled for use, the coal tar remains. Exposure to this thick black liquid increases the risk of a variety of cancers, including kidney, skin, liver and bladder cancer. Burning coal and inhaling the emissions can also be harmful. The burning of coal as it’s used as a heat source causes the release of formaldehyde, another carcinogen.

6. Air Pollution

Despite our best efforts to avoid certain pollutants like dust or tobacco smoke, the air is filled with harmful particles. Exhaust from cars in high traffic metropolitan areas can be detrimental to your health as there is an increased risk of lung cancer.

7. Asbestos

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to both corrosion and heat, which makes it great for insulation and fireproofing. However, these minerals are fibrous and when inhaled, its particles will cling to the lungs. Accumulated fibers lead to inflammation and eventually tissue scarring. Two of the main cancers caused by asbestos are mesothelioma (cancer of thin chest membranes) and lung cancer.


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