gallery Cancer: genes or environment?

Cancer can be a scary word, but it need not be. Having lost my parents to cancer over 26 years ago, I know how painful it can be to lose family and loved ones to this wretched disease. For that reason, I myself believe in uncovering as much information as possible to better protect myself as well as everyone I care about.  I ran across this article this evening from the Environmental Working Group and thought it might help someone out there have hope.

Cancer And The Environment: 10 Common Misconceptions Answered



As a cancer epidemiologist, I’ve spent a lot of time researching the links between environmental contaminants and cancer. One of the pitfalls of the Digital Age is that people come across a lot of information that isn’t based on sound scientific evidence or is, at best, anecdotal. That’s dangerous, because conjecture and falsehoods that masquerade as fact can hamper efforts to prevent and treat cancer.

Here are some common misconceptions:

#1: Getting cancer is almost completely out of your control.

While genetics and bad luck play a role, many cancers are caused by other factors, some of which you can control.

Smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise are major contributors to the development of cancer. Another 20 percent of cancers, according to the World Health Organization, are believed to be caused by environmental factors such as pollution, infections and radiation.

The bottom line: You certainly can’t avoid every potentially dangerous exposure, but as many as half of cancers may be preventable.

#2: “Everything” causes cancer.

Almost every day, you may read a news story suggesting that items in your home or substances in your food are linked to cancer or otherwise bad for your health.  Recent headlines trumpeted the risks of eating red and processed meats. The constant onslaught of warnings can be overwhelming.  But not all chemicals, pollutants or guilty pleasures will lead to cancer.  The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a research arm of the World Health Organization, has looked into nearly a thousand suspected causes of cancer. Of those suspicious substances and activities, they have concluded that just about half are known or potentially carcinogenic (117 known, 74 probable and 287 possible carcinogens).

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