Environmental Causes of Cancer This essay was written over various environmental causes of cancer, their incidence rates, and other related information.

Essay by ameliabethUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, December 2002

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Environmental Causes of Cancer

The term cancer does not refer to one specific disease, but rather to a large group of diseases. Cancer develops when cells in a part of the body begin to grow out of control. Although there are many kinds of cancer, they all start because of the uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells. These cancer cells develop because of damage to DNA, which is found in every cell of the body and directs all of the cells' activities. Although people can inherit damaged DNA, (which accounts for inherited cancers) most of the time a person's DNA becomes damaged due to environmental causes. Environmental hazards such as exposure to radiation, industrial/household chemicals, and certain pesticides have been proven to cause human cancer. Other environmental hazards include personal life style choices in which people engage in risky behaviors such as using tobacco and alcohol excessively, or eating unhealthy diets that cause obesity and other health complications.

Atomic (or ionizing) radiation and ultraviolet radiation from sunlight have been known to cause cancer for many years. An increased risk of cancer is associated with high doses of ionizing radiation such as from nuclear explosions and those used for treatment of certain diseases. The risk of cancer appears to be relatively small for low doses of X-rays received during diagnostic procedures. Scientists learned a great deal about the effects of radiation on humans after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima & Nagasaki in 1945 and also after the nuclear explosion at Chernobyl in 1986. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused over 150,000 deaths immediately, with thousands of people later developing different types of cancers. In 1990, almost 8,000 cancer deaths were recorded in the survivor population of just over 86,000. The most predominant type of cancer found among those...