‘Cancer’ – the one dreadful word terrifying generations since the last couple of decades. We all know that our lifestyle changes like excessive smoking and alcohol consumption, dietary choices, excessive sun exposure can put you at a higher risk of cancer. But did you know that there are some surprising everyday activities and choices that can increase your risk of cancer? The American Cancer Society says that certain substances, situations, and exposures known as carcinogens can cause cancer.
Here are 7 surprising carcinogens that you might not be aware of:
1. Obesity in adolescence
Research carried out in Israel on 1 million men have determined how being overweight in their adolescent days has increased their risk of gastro-esophageal cancer in the later years. Not just being overweight, certain health and lifestyle factors have also impacted the risk of cancer development. So, you must know that being overweight and eating unhealthy in the teenage years is not just a passing phase that will have no effect in the later years whatsoever. You must be mindful of what your kids are eating and what their BMI reads.
2. Alcohol consumption
What might pose as an easy conversation starter and a social mingler is actually listed as one of the carcinogens by the US Department of Health and Human Services! There have been many studies which also show that alcohol has a strong link with cancer development. New researches have revealed that alcohol even if consumed in moderate amounts is a potential carcinogen. Alcohol has been linked to the development of breast cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, and colorectal cancer.
3. Electronic devices like mobile phones
Is your mobile phone killing you?
Well, there is still some sort of conjecture whether or not mobile phones cause cancer. Such electronic devices are definitely a cause of concern as we hold it tight against our ear and head when chatting verbally and the question arises if phones can lead to cancerous tumours.
Cell phones and smartphones emit radiofrequency (RF) waves that get absorbed by the tissues closest to the vicinity of the phone devices. While some scientists have reported that these RF waves are not strong enough to cause cancer, other lab studies have reported that prolonged exposure to such RF waves increases the risk of developing malignant tumours by reducing the melatonin levels in the body.
So it is best if you use a hands-free device or put your phone on speaker mode when talking.
4. Omega-3 fish oil supplements
Aren’t fish oil supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are potentially good for health? Well, yes, they are! A study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute revealed that omega-3 fatty acids increase the risk of prostate cancer. But that does not mean that eating fish is bad for you as it is a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids which is still good for your heart health but the supplements have shown no such positive effects on heart health. On the contrary, they have shown an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
5. Diesel smoke
There are millions of cars plying on the roads and when out we get exposed to the fumes of diesel engine cars that have been recognized as being carcinogenic by the WHO. When in traffic on two-wheelers, you have no other way but to breathe in these toxic smokes. Your health is at an even higher risk if you stay near the industrial area or by the road. Breathing in these fumes on a daily basis increases the risk of lung cancer and other serious respiratory diseases.
6. Grilled food
Most of us have this penchant for grilled food and the mere sight of it makes us drool. But did you know that grilled and barbequed food is carcinogenic? Pan-frying or grilling red meat, pork, fish or poultry on an open flame to get the charcoal flavor can form carcinogenic chemicals like heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that have been linked to the risk of colorectal cancer and advanced prostate cancer.
This comes as surprise since sunscreen is used to protect skin against UV radiation from the sun. But researchers have found that when exposed to sunlight sunscreen has an ingredient zinc oxide that undergoes a chemical reaction and releases free radicals. These, in turn, damages the DNA of the cells causing skin cancer. But since the researches are still in the initial stages, so scientists recommend using sunscreen before a final revelation.
8. Working in night shifts
Yes, if you are one of those women working in night shifts, beware of your health! Studies have shown that circadian disruption (imbalance in internal body clock) is listed as a possible carcinogen by the WHO’s Internal Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Epidemiological studies have found out that women who work in night shifts as flight attendants, in MNCs or as nurses have an increased risk of developing breast cancer as compared to women who don’t. IARC states the reason, “This can alter sleep-activity patterns, suppresses melatonin production and deregulate genes involved in tumour development.”
Stay away from these carcinogens as much as possible and beat cancer!