Cancer is one of the most feared and least understood diseases of our time. Although great strides have been made in understanding possible causes and best ways to treat, this new knowledge can sometimes seem like a mixed blessing. The more we learn, the more obvious it becomes that many of the things we eat, touch, and expose ourselves to every day contain ingredients or materials that could increase our chances of developing cancer.
Cancer is caused by changes in a cell’s DNA – its genetic “blueprint.” Substances and exposures that can lead to cancer are called carcinogens, according to Cancer.org. Some carcinogens do not affect DNA directly, but lead to cancer in other ways. For example, they may cause cells to divide at a faster than normal rate, which could increase the chances that DNA changes will occur.
Since cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, you’d think that public health agencies and regulating organizations would be doing everything possible to limit our exposure to carcinogens…but that’s just not the case. In fact, less than 2 percent of all chemicals manufactured or processed in America have been tested for carcinogenicity.
As the infographic below shows, exposure to these substances through use of household chemicals, low-quality decorations, poor lifestyle choices, and even the furniture in our homes could increase cancer risk. Likewise, the way our state governments choose to regulate toxic industries (or not) can have an impact on whether or not these cancer causes chemicals are present in our air, water, and soil.
We must control our exposure when we can, by eliminating these harsh chemicals and carcinogen-laden products from our immediate environment whenever possible. And keep up the pressure on elected officials and industry leaders who seem content to allow these materials to be produced without testing or regulation.
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Infographic source: www.best-nursing-schools.net