World Cancer Day: Protecting Against Environmental Cancers

February 4, 2021
  |   Leave your comments

Contributed by a guest blogger for DEP

The American Cancer Society estimates that 45% of cancer deaths and 42% of cancer cases are preventable, as they are associated with modifiable risk factors. The research was determined by examining 26 types of cancer for adults over the age of 30. Researchers concluded that distinct lifestyle factors, mainly environmental, attributed to increased risks of developing these cancers.

February 4th is recognized as World Cancer Day. As almost half of all cancers can be avoided, we should be compelled to focus on protecting our health as a way to reduce our risk.

While not all of these factors are the leading cause of cancer, the following list can help you identify environmental carcinogens.

Ultraviolet Radiation

The sun’s rays are not only damaging to your eyes but also your skin. During the day, when the sun is present, it gives off energy through ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

There are two types of radiation that you should be aware of when going outside: Ultraviolet A (UVA), with wavelengths of 320 to 400 nanometers (nm), and Ultraviolet B (UVB) wavelengths, that range from 280 to 320 nm.

UVA rays are not as harmful as UVB rays but can intensify the impacting damage of UVB rays.

Though skin cancer is prominent in older adults, damage can begin before cancer cells are found, which is why sun protection, including wearing sunscreen, is critical. Our skin has melanin which can react with UV rays, slowing sun damage. However, long exposure to UV radiation makes the melanin less effective, and some individuals may not have enough melanin to stop skin cancer.


Found in older homes built before the 1980s, asbestos is a friable fiber that can be found in various products and materials.

Asbestos bans and limitations in manufacturing have helped decrease exposure, but asbestos is still a risk to homeowners, contractors, and others who could potentially inhale asbestos fibers due to disturbance or material breakdown.

This type of cancer is rare but has a low life expectancy once diagnosed. The most common type of this disease related to asbestos exposure is epithelioid mesothelioma where epithelial cells form in the linings of the lungs, primarily.

Since epithelioid mesothelioma spreads slower than other types of mesothelioma cells, patients may not likely develop symptoms until later cancer stages.


Another source of environmental toxins is industrial combustion, which can affect your lungs. Air pollution from factories, gases, car emissions, transportation waste, and smog are all toxins that can lead to cancer.

Air is vital to your health, and a study revealed that toxic air pollution is a link to an increased chance of developing breast, pancreatic, and liver cancer.

The study also indicated that the more particulate matter concentration in the air increased the risk of dying from any type of cancer

Lifestyle Factors

Your everyday routine can be just as detrimental.

We all know that cigarette smoking is deadly, and even second-hand smoke can be harmful. Smoking causes almost 90% of all lung cancer deaths–a horrifying statistic that should force you to consider quitting.

Choosing vitamin-rich foods and eating a balanced meal, while cutting down on processed foods, alcohol, and refined carbs can aid in the prevention of cancer. Food is not the only factor but it is proven to improve your health.

Along with this, obesity is highly detrimental, which is why eating foods that can lead to a healthy weight is significant. As a result, exercise is a great activity for cancer prevention. Physical fitness regulates hormone levels, keeps you at an ideal weight, and boosts digestion, all factors that raise cancer concerns.

Being careful about sun protection, avoiding asbestos, and eating well is not going to stop cancer in its tracks. However, all of these can work together to help prevent cancer. World Cancer Day can shed some light on these factors for us to receive more education on what we can do for our health.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *