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What Causes Cancer?

Updated on March 7, 2011

Cancer is a lifestyle disease and we can not deny it,  generally most of the types of cancer do not transfer through genes but in rare cases genetic transference of cancer cells have been seen and reported researches are in process to understand the genetic nature of cancer. Though cancer is not genetic disease but still people belonging from similar families often get effected through cancer many people think that cancer has been transmitted to them through genes but doctors do not agree with them. What happens then why people from similar families suffer from cancer if it is not hereditary! Cancer is a lifestyle disease and if one person gets effected from cancer other people in the family who have similar lifestyle can get effected through it. Researchers have seen that if say a mother dies of cancer and her daughter has similar lifestyle her chances of getting effected from cancer in her mothers age increases manifold.


Inheritance of cancer from family is not very common though few types of cancer can transfer through genes. Only about 5-10% of all cancers are inherited others are due to environmental effects. Genetic nature of cancer can be simply understood by learning about two types of genes: oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. Oncogenes are mutated from of some normal genes while tumor suppressor genes function as tumor controlling genes but once they stop working and get deactivated cells start to divide abnormally and cancer develops. These two types of genes can be inherited from parents or family. While these genes can be inherited but in most cases their malfunction or abnormal cell growth is not because it has been inherited from parents but because it has been developed over the course of time. Therefore you might have noticed that inherited cancers develop in early ages while non-inherited usually develop in later ages. The reason is that the effect of environment is shown after long exposure to that risk factor but inherited genes work fast.

Even if many people in your family have been effected by cancer you still need to know how and why cancer prevalence is greater in your family before deciding that it is genetic. Especially if cancer has been developed in far relatives there is nothing to worry about because cancer genes can be transferred only in close relatives. When to worry then! if many of your close relatives have been diagnosed with cancer or cancer developed in your close family members in very young age, there is a risk involved that it might be genetic mutation that caused cancer.

Environmental or lifestyle factor in cancer development are very common. There can be numerous causes of cancer and one type of cancer has different risk factors from the other type. Cancer is a very complicated disease and this is the reason why millions and trillions of researches each year are conducted in different countries. Researchers are eager to know the causes of cancer; some causes are well known other are still to understand. Though genetic transference is not that common but once genes are transferred from parents to child cancer develops at faster rates. When cancer develops due to environmental factors it shows after long time and prolonged exposure.

  • Smoke and Tobacco are prominent causes of lungs cancer, skin cancer and throat cancer. Smoking can be dangerous even if we are not directly inhaling it but live in a place where other people use to smoke a lot. In underdeveloped countries like India and Pakistan pollution density is greater than in developed countries so this causes slow damage to lungs and other organs as people can not avoid it. In one of the recent study it has been found that smoke and tobacco causes immediate damage to cells and repeated exposure causes inability of body to heal any damage to tissues and cells leading to cancer and other diseases of lungs. In developed countries tobacco is one of the serious cause of many types of cancer. In America alone more than 443,000 deaths occur due to tobacco exposure and inhale.
  • Other carcinogens are found everywhere. Due to synthetic revolution in current years most of day-to-day products are made up of synthetic chemicals which contain carcinogenic materials. Formaldehyde an important chemical and part of many products tend to have carcinogenic properties, along with it many esters and nitriles contain carcinogenic properties. We can not avoid their use because they are part of everything from clothes to beauty products and from packaged food to packaging. The best way is to live organic life but that is even difficult because we have so much industrialized and have become use to of technology that we can not even think of spending a day without these things.
  • Malnutrition includes many things: eating less, eating too much high-calorie low-in-nutrients food and eating too much. Moderation is the key, we all know it, but its difficult to act on it. The more we have obtained knowledge of our body and its needs the more we have adopted negative eating habits. Processed food is one of the greatest risk factor for cancer. Researchers and nutritionists say that processed meat is one of the biggest threat to body causing cancer, coronary diseases and intestinal problems. A diet which is low in fluids, vitamins, minerals, fiber
  • Exposure to Rays damages cells and is greatly linked with especially skin cancer. Prolonged exposure to sun rays can cause damage to skin cells and cell mutation results.

Prevalence of cancer in different Countries We can see that prevalence of cancer is greatest in UK, United States and Australia, while it is lowest in China and Japan and other Asian countries but the rate is increasing in these countries too.

Causes of cancer in developed and underdeveloped countries also vary: in developed countries cancer prevalence has been increased due to high industrial expansion and extensive use of technology; on the other hand in underdeveloped countries cancer increases due to other reasons like hepatitis B, C and other infectious diseases. Poor living conditions in underdeveloped countries are also a big cause of cancer, in many cases they do not even go to the physician if they feel any health problem as a result the problem get worse and then it converts into cancer.



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