The 116 things that can give you cancer

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  • There’s constant speculation around things that can possibly cause cancer. A list has been released by International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of World Health Organisation, following their recent announcement that processed meats like bacon and sausages are likely to be carcinogenic.

    The organisation, responsible for collecting and studying data on the disease, compiled an exhaustive list of the 116 items, activities and chemicals that can contribute to cancer.

    It comes as no surprise that smoking tobacco is on the list, as well as ‘smokeless tobacco products’, since smoking is responsible for roughly 20 per cent of cancer-related deaths and remains the number one cause of cancer.

    Using sunbeds and outdoor air pollution are also on it, and while some apply only to certain professions like ‘occupational exposure as a painter’, other more common items can also be found like ‘contraceptives, oral, sequential forms of hormonal contraception’ and alcoholic beverages.

    Cancer affects 2.5 million people in the UK today, according to the charity Macmillan, and is one of the leading causes of death globally. According to data released by WHO, there were an estimated 8.2 million cancer-related deaths in 2012 worldwide, and the number is expected to rise by around 70 per cent over the next two years.

    Here is the World Health Organisation’s list of the 116 things that can contribute to cancer

    1. Tobacco smoking
    2. Sunlamps and sunbeds
    3. Aluminium production
    4. Arsenic in drinking water
    5. Auramine production
    6. Boot and shoe manufacture and repair
    7. Chimney sweeping
    8. Coal gasification
    9. Coal tar distillation
    10. Coke (fuel) production
    11. Furniture and cabinet making
    12. Haematite mining (underground) with exposure to radon
    13. Secondhand smoke
    14. Iron and steel founding
    15. Isopropanol manufacture (strong-acid process)
    16. Magenta dye manufacturing
    17. Occupational exposure as a painter
    18. Paving and roofing with coal-tar pitch
    19. Rubber industry
    20. Occupational exposure of strong inorganic acid mists containing sulphuric acid
    21. Naturally occurring mixtures of aflatoxins (produced by funghi)
    22. Alcoholic beverages
    23. Areca nut – often chewed with betel leaf
    24. Betel quid without tobacco
    25. Betel quid with tobacco
    26. Coal tar pitches
    27. Coal tars
    28. Indoor emissions from household combustion of coal
    29. Diesel exhaust
    30. Mineral oils, untreated and mildly treated
    31. Phenacetin, a pain and fever reducing drug
    32. Plants containing aristolochic acid (used in Chinese herbal medicine) 33. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – widely used in electrical equipment in the past, banned in many countries in the 1970s
    34. Chinese-style salted fish
    35. Shale oils
    36. Soots
    37. Smokeless tobacco products
    38. Wood dust
    39. Processed meat
    40. Acetaldehyde
    41. 4-Aminobiphenyl
    42. Aristolochic acids and plants containing them
    43. Asbestos
    44. Arsenic and arsenic compounds
    45. Azathioprine
    46. Benzene
    47. Benzidine
    48. Benzo[a]pyrene
    49. Beryllium and beryllium compounds
    50. Chlornapazine (N,N-Bis(2-chloroethyl)-2-naphthylamine)
    51. Bis(chloromethyl)ether
    52. Chloromethyl methyl ether
    53. 1,3-Butadiene
    54. 1,4-Butanediol dimethanesulfonate (Busulphan, Myleran)
    55. Cadmium and cadmium compounds
    56. Chlorambucil
    57. Methyl-CCNU (1-(2-Chloroethyl)-3-(4-methylcyclohexyl)-1-nitrosourea; Semustine)
    58. Chromium(VI) compounds
    59. Ciclosporin
    60. Contraceptives, hormonal, combined forms (those containing both oestrogen and a progestogen)
    61. Contraceptives, oral, sequential forms of hormonal contraception (a period of oestrogen-only followed by a period of both oestrogen and a progestogen)
    62. Cyclophosphamide
    63. Diethylstilboestrol
    64. Dyes metabolized to benzidine
    65. Epstein-Barr virus
    66. Oestrogens, nonsteroidal
    67. Oestrogens, steroidal
    68. Oestrogen therapy, postmenopausal
    69. Ethanol in alcoholic beverages
    70. Erionite
    71. Ethylene oxide
    72. Etoposide alone and in combination with cisplatin and bleomycin
    73. Formaldehyde
    74. Gallium arsenide
    75. Helicobacter pylori (infection with)
    76. Hepatitis B virus (chronic infection with)
    77. Hepatitis C virus (chronic infection with)
    78. Herbal remedies containing plant species of the genus Aristolochia
    79. Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (infection with)
    80. Human papillomavirus type 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59 and 66
    81. Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type-I
    82. Melphalan
    83. Methoxsalen (8-Methoxypsoralen) plus ultraviolet A-radiation
    84. 4,4′-methylene-bis(2-chloroaniline) (MOCA)
    85. MOPP and other combined chemotherapy including alkylating agents
    86. Mustard gas (sulphur mustard)
    87. 2-Naphthylamine
    88. Neutron radiation
    89. Nickel compounds
    90. 4-(N-Nitrosomethylamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK)
    91. N-Nitrosonornicotine (NNN)
    92. Opisthorchis viverrini (infection with)
    93. Outdoor air pollution
    94. Particulate matter in outdoor air pollution
    95. Phosphorus-32, as phosphate
    96. Plutonium-239 and its decay products (may contain plutonium-240 and other isotopes), as aerosols
    97. Radioiodines, short-lived isotopes, including iodine-131, from atomic reactor accidents and nuclear weapons detonation (exposure during childhood)
    98. Radionuclides, α-particle-emitting, internally deposited
    99. Radionuclides, β-particle-emitting, internally deposited
    100. Radium-224 and its decay products
    101. Radium-226 and its decay products
    102. Radium-228 and its decay products
    103. Radon-222 and its decay products
    104. Schistosoma haematobium (infection with)
    105. Silica, crystalline (inhaled in the form of quartz or cristobalite from occupational sources)
    106. Solar radiation
    107. Talc containing asbestiform fibres
    108. Tamoxifen
    109. 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin
    110. Thiotepa (1,1’,1”-phosphinothioylidynetrisaziridine)
    111. Thorium-232 and its decay products, administered intravenously as a colloidal dispersion of thorium-232 dioxide
    112. Treosulfan
    113. Ortho-toluidine
    114. Vinyl chloride
    115. Ultraviolet radiation
    116. X-radiation and gamma radiation

    You can find out more information via the World Health Organisation here.