Cancer. The very word conjures up visions of pain and suffering. If any disease has made itself an enemy of man, it is this one. Cancer may come in many forms but its outcome has always been damaging. The medical fraternity counts cancer as its greatest foe.

Dr. Meenu Gupta

Cancer Causes & Risk Factors

Cancer is preventable in many cases. Learning what causes cancer and what the risk factors are is the first step in cancer prevention. By avoiding cancer risk factors, the likelihood of developing cancer can be curtailed.
What are the Causes and Risk Factors for Cancer?
 
Tobacco
Smoking is a cause in 30% of all cancers and 87% of lung cancers. It also has a hand in causing kidney, pancreatic, cervical, stomach and bladder cancers.
Leukemia is a type of cancer that begins in bone marrow. While Leukemia occurs in both children and adults, smoking is a major risk factor for a type of leukemia called acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). The carcinogens in cigarettes are absorbed by the lungs and then move to the bloodstream. Smoking is found to be the cause of AML in over 25 percent of the cases.
 
Physical Activity
Daily exercise (like Yoga, Aerobics, Walking and Running) 30 min 5 times a week really helps in reducing the risk of cancer. This is so because this prevents obesity, which is a risk factor in developing cancer of prostate, colon, breast, endometrium and lung. Regular exercise delays puberty, which reduces risk of breast cancer.
 
Genetics
This is a big risk factor and much of it is still not realized / uncovered. Familial history of cancers is very important especially in breast, colonic malignancies etc. This is due to a mutant gene, which may be passed from parent to offspring.
So, having a family history of Cancer need not, mean you will develop it, but you only have a greater chance of developing it.
 
Alcohol
Its use predisposes people especially women to develop oral, oesophageal, liver, breast, pharyngeal, laryngeal cancers.
 
Food
Chemicals in diet, non-vegetarian diet are risk factors for cancers especially Colonic cancer. Micronutrients and antioxidants in food are protective against cancer.
 
Environment
Exposure to chemicals like asbestos, benzene (found in gasoline, smoking, pollution) which are used in many industries have been implicated in causing cancers. Exposure to radiation causes many cancers.
 
Unsafe Sex
This may lead to an infection with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and increase risk of cervical, anal, vulval and vaginal cancer. PAP Smear is a test done to check for HPV infection and abnormal cells.
 
Sun Exposure
Ultraviolet rays from the Sun can cause Skin cancers.