Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Cancers

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It is very difficult, if not impossible, to determine what caused a cancer in any individual.  Most cancers have multiple causes. 

Medical science has identified up to 100 different cancers affecting humans.  1  The majority of these cancers, some 90–95% of cases, are due to environmental factors, while the remaining 5–10% are due to inherited genetics. 

Environmental factors include lifestyle factors which include cigarette smoking, diet (fried foods, red meat), alcohol, sun exposure, environmental pollutants, infections, stress, obesity, exposure to toxins and pollution and physical inactivity.   2

This article identifies nineteen of the most common cancers and identifies some of the risk factors and potential causes of these cancers.  The risk factors are exclusively related to lifestyle factors and does not include genetic factors.  The lists are by no means comprehensive, but provide a starting point for further research.

The 19 cancers include:

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Brain Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Endometrial Cancer
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Laryngeal Cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Lymphomas
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Skin Cancer
  • Stomach Cancer

Risk Factors and Potential Cause of Cancers

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Bladder Cancer

Bladder Cancer  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Intestinal Parasites
Schistosoma haematobium1
Meats
Bacon2
Minerals
Arsenic3
Recreational Drugs
Tobacco4

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Brain Cancer

Brain Cancer  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Amines
Nitrosamines1
Exotoxins
Diketopiperazine (DKP)2
Polyvinyl Chloride3
Food Additives
Aspartame4 5
Foods
Bacon6
Ham7
Nervous System
Head Injuries (Meningioma)8

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Amines
Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines (HAA’s)1
Amino Acids
Homocysteine2
Carbohydrates
Simple sugars3 4
Electromagnetic Radiation
X-rays5
Environmental toxins
Air pollution6
Organochlorines7
Enzymes
Aromatase (excessive)8
Beta-Glucuronidase (excessive)9
Fatty Acid Synthase (excessive)10
Ornithine Decarboxylase (excessive)11
Protein Kinase C (excessive)12
Food Preparation
Barbequed foods13
Growth Factors
Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1)14
Herbs
Dong Quai15
Hormones
Estradiol (elevated)16
Estrone (excessive)17
Leptin (elevated)18
Prolactin (excessive)19
Lipids
Omega-6 Fatty Acids (excessive)20
Prostaglandin E2 (excessive)21
Metabolism
Diabetes Mellitus Type 222
Insulin resistance23
Obesity24
Musculoskeletal System
Fibrocystic Breat disease25
Pesticides
Dioxin (exposure)26
Pharmaceutical Drugs
Synthetic Estrogens27
HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitors28
Processed Foods
Margarine29
Recreational Drugs
Alcohol (excessive)30 31

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Amino Acids
Homocysteine (elevated)1
Enzymes
Ornithine Decarboxylase (excessive)2
Hormones
16-Hydroxyestrone (a metabolite of Estrone)3
Metabolism
Obesity4
Recreational Drugs
Tobacco5
Sexual System
Cervical Dysplasia6
Viruses
Papilloma Viruses (Papilloma Virus-16, Papilloma Virus-18, Papilloma Virus-31, Papilloma Virus-45)7

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Amines
Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines (HAA’s)1
Beverages
Beer2
Bile Acids
Cholic Acid (Excessive immobile)3
Deoxycholic Acid (Immobile)4
Lithocholic Acid (excessive/accumulation)5
Carbohydrates
Simple Sugars6 7 8 9
Digestive System
Crohn’s disease10
Ulcerative colitis11
Enzymes
Beta-Glucuronidase (excessive)12
Cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2) (excessive)13
Hyaluronidase (Hyaluronate Lyase form)14
Ornithine Decarboxylase (excessive)15
Food Preparation
Fried foods16
Growth Factors
Epidermal Growth Factor (excessive)17
Hormones
Insulin (elevated) (Hyperinsulinemia)18 19
Leptin (elevated)20
Immune System
Interleukin 6 (IL-6) (excessive)21
Lipids
Omega-6 Fatty Acids (excessive)22 23
Prostaglandin E2 (excessive)24
Meats
Bacon25
Frankfurters26
Lamb27
Pork28
Salami29
Red Meat (Heme)30 31 32
Metabolism
Diabetes Mellitus Type 233
Obesity34 35 36 37
Microorganisms
Strepococcus bovis38
Minerals
Iron (excessive)39
Nervous System
Stress (excessive)40 41
Proteins
C-Reactive Protein (elevated)42 43
Heme (excessive dietary intake)44 45
Oils
Corn Oil46 47
Safflower Oil48
Recreational Drugs
Alcohol49 50
Tobacco51 52

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Endometrium Cancer

Endometrium Cancer  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Carbohydrates
Simple sugars1
Enzymes
Aromatase (excessive)2
Food Toxins
Acrylamide3
Growth Factors
Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1)4
Hormones
Estrone (excessive)5
Hyperinsulinemia (Elevated Insulin levels)6
Metabolism
Obesity7
Minerals
Iron (excessive)8
Pharmaceutical Drugs
Conjugated Estrogens (excessive)9
Tamoxifen10
Sexual System
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)11

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal Cancer  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Beverages
Beer (N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) [a Nitrosamine] content of Beer)1
Enzymes
Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) (excessive)2
Foods
Red meat3
Metabolism
Obesity4
Microorganisms
Fusarium moniliforme-contaminated Food5
Processed Foods
Pickled Foods6
Recreational Drugs
Tobacco7 8
Alcohol9 10

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Kidney Cancer

Kidney Cancer  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Food
Red meat (excessive consumption)1
Food Toxins
Acrylamide2
Metabolism
Obesity3 4
Minerals
Copper (excessive consumption)5
Mycotoxins
Ochratoxin6
Pharmaceutical Drugs
Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids (A-ASs) (excessive consumption)7
Estrogens (excessive)8

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal Cancer  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Amines
Nitrosamines1
Microorganisms
Helicobacter pylori2 3
Recreational Drugs
Tobacco4
Marijuana (long term smoking)5
Alcohol6

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Leukemia

Leukemia  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Electromagnetic Radiation
X-rays1
Food Additives
Aspartame2 3
Immune System
Myelodysplasia4
Oral Health
Periodontal Disease5
Pesticides
Chlordane6
Heptachlor7 8

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Liver Cancer

Liver Cancer  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Alkaloids
Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids (Riddelliine)1
Amines
Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines (HAAs)2
Enzymes
Cyclooxyggenase (COX-2 form) (excessive)3 4
Environmental Toxins
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)5
Herbs
Butterbur (due to the Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids present in Butterbur)6
Comfrey (due to the Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids found in Comfrey)7
Hormones
Hyperinsulinemia8
Meats
Red Meats9
Metabolism
Obesity10
Minerals
Fluoride (excessive)11
Mycotoxins
Aflatoxin (produced by various species of detrimental Aspergillus moulds)12
Ochratoxin13
Pharmaceutical Drugs
Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids (A-ASs)14
Tamoxifen15
Recreational Drugs
Alcohol16 17 18

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Amines
Methylnitrosamino-1-(3-pyridyl)-l-butanone (NNK) present in tobacco smoke1 2 3
Electromagnetic Radiation
X-Rays4
Environmental Toxins
Air Pollution5
Asbestos6
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)7
Food Preparation
Barbequed Meats8
Lipids
Prostaglandin E29
Trans-Fatty Acids10
Metabolism
Obesity12
Minerals
Cadmium13
Calcium (excessive)14
Iron (excessive)15
Nickel Carbonyl16
Phosphorus (excessive)17
Pharmaceutical Drugs
Conjugated Estrogens18
Progestins19
Medroxyprogesterone20
Processed Foods
Margarine21
Recreational Drugs
Tobacco22

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Lymphomas

Lymphomas  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Aldehydes
Formaldehyde1
Amines
Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines (HAAs)2
Exotoxins
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)3
Food Additives
Aspartame4 5
Lipids
Saturated Fatty Acids6
Trans-Fatty Acids7
Metabolism
Obesity8

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Multiple Myeloma

Multiple Myeloma  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Aldehydes
Formaldehyde1
Immune System
Interleukin 6 (IL-6) (excessive)2
Metabolism
Obesity3

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian Cancer  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Carbohydrates
Lactose1 2
Electromagnetic Radiation
X-Rays3
Enzymes
Fatty Acid Synthase (excessive)4
Foods
Dairy Products5
Ham6
Red Meat7
Food Toxins
Acrylamide8
Hormones
Androstenedione (endogenous)9
Estrogens (excessive)10
2-Hydroxyestrone (excessive)11
Estradiol (excessive)12
Metabolism
Obesity13
Pharmaceutical Drugs
Clomiphene (a Fertility Drug)14

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Beverages
Soft Drinks1 2 3
Carbohydrates
Simple sugars4
Enzymes
Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) (excessive)5
Food Preparation
Barbequed Meats6
Hormones
Insulin (elevated)7
Lipids
Arachidonic Acid8
Meats
Red Meats (excessive consumption of grilled or barbequed red meats due to the Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines (HAAs) formed in Red Meats during these cooking methods)9 10
Metabolism
Cross-Linking (glycation) (excessive)11
Obesity12
Proteins
Nuclear Factor-Kappa B (activation)13
Recreational Drugs
Alcohol14
Tobacco15 16 17

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Amines
Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines (HAAs)1
Environmental Toxins
Pesticides2
Dioxin3
Enzymes
5-Alpha Reductase (excessive)4
5-Lipoxygenase (excessive)5
Beta-Glucuronidase (excessive)6
Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) (excessive)7
Fatty Acid Synthase (excessive)8
Foods
Dairy Products9
Growth Factors
Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) (elevated)10
Hormones
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)11
Estrogens (specifically 16-Hydroxyestrone) (excessive)12 13
Prolactin (excessive)14
Immune System
Interleukin 6 (IL-6) (elevated)15
Lipids
Alpha-Linolenic Acid (excessive consumption)16
Arachidonic Acid (excessive conversion)17
Prostaglandin E2 (excessive)18
Meats
Red meats (Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines (HAAs) present in Meats cooked at a high temperature)19
Metabolism
Insulin Resistance20
Obesity21
Minerals
Cadmium22
Lead23
Calcium (excessive consumption)24
Phosphorus (excessive consumption)25
Pharmaceutical Drugs
Cimetidine (long term use)26
Processed Foods
Margarine27
Recreational Drugs
Alcohol28
Viruses
Papilloma Viruses (especially HPV 16)29

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Coumarins
Furocoumarins (Psoralens)1
Enzymes
Ornithine Decarboxylase (excessive)2
Lipids
Trans-Fatty Acids3
Recreational Drugs
Alcohol4
Processed Foods
Margarine5
Sunscreens
Titanium Dioxide (a common ingredient in Sunscreens)6

Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Stomach Cancer

Stomach Cancer  
CategoryRisk FactorReferences
Amines
Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines (HAAs)1
Nitrosamines2
Carbohydrates
Simple sugars3 4 5
Digestive System
Hypochlorhydria6
Hydrazines
Agaritine (due to it converting within the Stomach to a highly reactive and mutagenic metabolite of Diazonium)7
Lipids
Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2)8
Microorganisms
Helicobacter pylori9 10
Minerals
Sodium (excessive)11
Processed Foods
Pickled Foods12
Recreational Drugs
Alcohol13 14

The Table below is a summary of the 19 Tables of Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Cancers listed above;

Summary of Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Cancer

CategoryRisk Factor12345678910111213141516171819#
Aldehydes
FormaldehydeXX2
Alkaloids
Pyrrolizidine AlkaloidsX2
Amines
Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines (HAA’s)XXXXXX6
Methylnitrosamino-1-(3-pyridyl)-l-butanone (NNK) present in Tobacco smokeX1
NitrosaminesXXX3
Amino Acids
Homocysteine (elevated)XX2
Beverages
Beer (N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) [a Nitrosamine] content of beer)XX2
Soft DrinksX1
Bile Acids
Cholic Acid (Excessive immobile)X1
Deoxycholic Acid (immobile)X1
Lithocholic Acid (excessive accumulation)X1
Carbohydrates
LactoseX1
Simple sugarsXXXXX4
Coumarins
Furocoumarins (Psoralens)X1
Digestive System
Crohn’s diseaseX1
HypochlorhydriaX1
Ulcerative colitisX1
Electromagnetic Radiation
X-RaysXXXX4
Environmental toxins
Air PollutionXX2
AsbestosX1
DioxinX1
OrganochlorinesX1
PesticidesX1
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)XX2
Enzymes
5-Alpha Reductase (excessive)X1
5-Lipoxygenase (excessive)X1
Aromatase (excessive)XX2
Beta-Glucuronidase (excessive)XXX3
Cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2) (excessive)XXXXX5
Fatty Acid Synthase (excessive)XXX3
Hyaluronidase (Hyaluronate Lyase form)X1
Ornithine Decarboxylase (excessive)XXXX4
Protein Kinase C (excessive)X1
Exotoxins
Diketopiperazine (DKP)X1
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)XX2
Foods
Dairy ProductsXX2
HamXX2
Food Additives
AspartameXXX3
Food Preparation
Barbequed foodsXXX3
Fried foodsX1
Food Toxins
AcrylamideXXX3
Growth Factors
Epidermal Growth Factor (excessive)X1
Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) (elevated)XXX3
Herbs
Butterbur (due to the Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids present in Butterbur)X1
Dong QuaiX1
Comfrey (due to the Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids found in Comfrey)X1
Hormones
16-Hydroxyestrone (a metabolite of Estrone)X1
2-Hydroxyestrone (excessive)X1
Androstenedione (endogenous)X1
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)X1
Estradiol (excessive)X1
Estrogens (excessive)X1
16-Hydroxyestrone (excessive)X1
Estrone (excessive)XX2
Hyperinsulinemia (Elevated Insulin levels)XXXX4
Leptin (elevated)XX2
Prolactin (excessive)XX2
Hydrazines
Agaritine (due to it converting within the Stomach to a highly reactive and mutagenic metabolite of Diazonium)X1
Immune System
Interleukin 6 (IL-6) (excessive)XXX3
MyelodysplasiaX1
Intestinal Parasites
Schistosoma haematobiumX1
Lipids
Alpha-Linolenic Acid (excessive consumption)X1
Arachidonic Acid (excessive conversion)XX2
Omega-6 Fatty Acids (excessive)XX2
Prostaglandin E2 (excessive)XXXXX5
Saturated Fatty AcidsX1
Trans-Fatty AcidsXXX3
Meats
BaconXXX3
FrankfurtersX1
LambX1
PorkX1
Red MeatsXXXXXX6
SalamiX1
Metabolism
Cross-Linking (glycation) (excessive)X1
Diabetes Mellitus Type 2XX2
Insulin resistanceXX2
ObesityXXXXXXXXXXXXX13
Microorganisms
Fusarium moniliforme-contaminated FoodX1
Helicobacter pyloriXX2
Strepococcus bovisX1
Minerals
ArsenicX1
CadmiumXX2
Calcium (excessive)XX2
Copper (excessive consumption)X1
Fluoride (excessive)X1
Iron (excessive)XXX3
LeadX1
Nickel CarbonylX1
Phosphorus (excessive)XX2
Sodium (excessive)X1
Musculoskeletal System
Fibrocystic Breast diseaseX1
Mycotoxins
Aflatoxin (produced by various species of detrimental Aspergillus moulds)X1
OchratoxinXX2
Nervous System
Head Injuries (Meningioma)X1
Stress (excessive)X1
Oils
Corn OilX1
Safflower OilX1
Pesticides
ChlordaneX1
Dioxin (exposure)X1
HeptachlorX1
Pharmaceutical Drugs
Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids (A-ASs) (excessive long-term use)XX2
Cimetidine (long term use)X1
Clomiphene (a Fertility Drug)X1
Conjugated EstrogensXX2
HMG-CoA Reductase InhibitorsX1
MedroxyprogesteroneX1
ProgestinsX1
Synthetic Estrogens (excessive)XX2
TamoxifenXX2
Processed Foods
MargarineXXXX4
Pickled FoodsX1
Proteins
C-Reactive Protein (elevated)X1
Heme (excessive dietary intake)X1
Nuclear Factor-Kappa B (activation)X1
Recreational Drugs
Alcohol (excessive)XXXXXXXXX9
Marijuana (long term smoking)X1
TobaccoXXXXXXX7
Sexual System
Cervical DysplasiaX1
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)X1
Sunscreens
Titanium Dioxide (a common ingredient in Sunscreens)X1
Viruses
Papilloma Viruses (Papilloma Virus-16)XX2
Legend:
1 Bladder Cancer; 2 Brain Cancer; 3 Breast Cancer; 4 Cervical Cancer; 5 Colorectal Cancer; 6 Endometrial Cancer; 7 Esophageal Cancer; 8 Kidney Cancer; 9 Laryngeal Cancer; 10 Leukemia; 11 Liver Cancer; 12 Lung Cancer; 13 Lymphomas;
14 Multiple Myeloma; 15 Ovarian Cancer; 16 Pancreatic Cancer; 17 Prostate Cancer; 18 Skin Cancer; 19 Stomach Cancer

The Table below lists the top 12 Risk Factors and Potential Causes of Cancers based on the Summary Table above. 

Top 12 (Dirty Dozen) Risk Factors of Cancers

Risk Factor# of Cancers
Obesity13
Alcohol (excessive)9
Tobacco7
Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines (HAA’s)6
Red Meats6
Cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2) (excessive)5
Prostaglandin E2 (excessive)5
Simple sugars4
X-Rays4
Ornithine Decarboxylase (excessive)4
Hyperinsulinemia (Elevated Insulin levels)4
Margarine4


References:

National Cancer Institute

American Cancer Society

MedlinePlus – Cancer

Mayo Clinic – Cancer


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