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What Causes Cancer?

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What Causes Cancer?

What causes cancer? When you think of all the things that are known or assumed to be cancer-causing and put them together–you end up with a list that is pretty daunting. This summary comes straight from the book Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic (New Society Publishers, 2007) by Liz Armstrong, Guy Dauncey and Anne Wordsworth.

This list does not claim to represent a complete summary of the contributing factors; but it is an indication that there are many more factors than we usually think about. The good news is that many are avoidable. What do you think of this list? Do you take issue with any of the items here? Are there other items that you would add?

Lifestyle and Diet Factors
Smoking and second-hand smoke.
Diet–too much meat, not enough fruits and vegetables.
Absence of UV sunlight in some regions, reducing cancer-protecting vitamin D.
Obesity, and lack of regular exercise.

10 Healthy Ways to Get Vitamin D

Other Food Factors
Processed food such as nitrosamines, aspartame, some food colorants.
Bovine growth hormone in milk.
Some salt-cured, pickled, and smoked food.
Sugar and alcohol consumption.
Absence of cancer-protecting compounds in food not grown organically.
Food contaminated with pesticides and herbicides.

The Anti-Cancer Grocery List
10 Cancer-Fighting Foods

Next: Work, Radiation and Air Pollution

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


+ add your own
4:30AM PDT on Apr 28, 2014

People should stop smoking.

4:09AM PDT on Sep 14, 2013

Lifestyle matters

7:21PM PDT on Jun 20, 2013

Peoples should stop smoking.

7:11PM PDT on Jun 20, 2013

Good info.

3:50PM PDT on Jun 20, 2013


6:55PM PDT on Jun 13, 2013

Thanks for the article.

11:33AM PDT on Jun 7, 2013

ban breathing

5:16PM PDT on May 16, 2011

You can't narrow this down, it depends literally on everything.

10:24AM PDT on Apr 15, 2011

I very much fear that we are still in the beginning of understanding what causes cancer. My mother was a fanatic vegan, did not smoke or drink alcohol, ate organic food, did not have cancer in the family, but had a huge fear of getting cancer. And she did... Conclusions are yours!

5:15PM PDT on Apr 12, 2011


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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