What causes cancer?

(Medical Xpress) -- Fears that involuntary exposure to chemicals in food and consumer products causes cancer are not supported by evidence, and anxiety about their dangers is diverting attention from proven methods of cancer prevention, a leading Australian cancer researcher says.

Writing in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet Oncology, Professor Bernard Stewart, from the University of New South Wales and the Cancer Control Program at the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District Public Health Unit, says a world-first analysis of evidence shows are the most significant proven causes of cancer.

"Measures known to prevent cancer include , reducing , curbing obesity and avoiding deliberate sun exposure. Diverting attention from these messages threatens to undermine their efficacy to deliver proven benefits," said Professor Stewart, who systematically reviewed on known and suspected cancer hazards.

“Cancer is arguably the most-feared disease in the Western world, and media attention focuses on any inference of causation,” he said. “Most people are aware of a multitude of possible cancer causes.”

While there is evidence that air pollution contributes to cancer risk, “the risk is at least 10 times less than it is for smoking”, Professor Stewart said.

“Though exposure to very small amounts of carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals occurs as a result of food contamination and by using certain consumer products, these circumstances have never been shown to cause cancer in developed countries.

"Cancer has not been shown to have arisen because regulatory authorities overseeing food standards or consumer product safety overlooked the evidence," Professor Stewart said, “with the possible exception of quicker action to ban tanning devices.”

He said focus must remain on proven cancer reducing strategies.

“There may be a case in public health policy for the message that cancer is not all the individual’s fault. But this perspective could bring with it the burden of needless anxiety and, in all likelihood, lessen inclination to adopt measures proven to reduce the risk of malignant disease.”


Explore further

Women with breast cancer continue to smoke, drink

Citation: What causes cancer? (2012, February 28) retrieved 25 June 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-02-cancer.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Feb 28, 2012
Smoking causes an increase of iron in the body. Alcohol causes an increase of iron in the body. Tanning increases iron in the skin. Iron binders are being used for cancer.
Doxorubicin one of the premiere cancer drugs used presently , iron chelator.
"Doxorubicin (DOX) up-regulated mRNA levels of the iron-regulated genes transferrin receptor-1 (TfR1) and N-myc downstream-regulated gene-1 (Ndrg1). This effect was mediated by iron depletion, because it was reversed by adding iron and it was prevented by saturating the
anthracycline metal binding site with iron."
The government by law adds the metal iron to all our foods and so our high iron diet causes what is called age-related iron accumulation which causes cancer.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more