Cancer-linked substances are everywhere.
Sometimes it can feel downright unavoidable: Californians now have to read cancer warnings as they sip their morning coffees, and the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer keeps a running tally of things that definitely cause cancer, seem to cause cancer, and might cause cancer.
All cancer is a result of damage or genetic mutations in our DNA. It fundamentally affects the way cells grow and divide, changing them in perverse ways. Those toxic, rapidly multiplying cells then grow into unruly tumors, and can spread far and wide through the body.
Some cases of cancer are out of our control, determined by genetic defects and predispositions passed down from one generation to the next, or spurred by genetic changes we undergo through our lifetime.
Products like cigarettes are clear cancer-causers, while other consumables like grilled meats may up your chances of getting cancer by just a tiny fraction. Coffee has recently been vilified in California because it contains a cancer-causing chemical called acrylamide, but a growing body of research suggests that a daily dose of brew may do your body more good than harm.
The truth is, just about every compound out there could possibly, maybe, one day contribute to cancer. Still, there are some products that scientists are starting to sense we should monitor more closely.
Here’s what we know.
Going on birth control is a mixed bag when it comes to cancer.
While it may increase a woman’s risk for developing breast and cervical cancers, studies suggest it might also lower the chances of developing endometrial, ovarian, or colorectal cancers.
Scientists now know that eating too much sweet stuff can not only lead to diabetes, it can also actively damage your cells and up your odds of developing cancer.
But that’s not all.
New research suggests that sugar may fuel tumor growth in the body, because cancer loves to use sugar as fuel.
“The hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth” Belgian molecular biologist Johan Thevelein said when his latest study was released in 2017. Scientists say the groundbreaking research gives us a better understanding of how sugar and cancer interact, and could one day help create targeted diet strategies for patients.
Plastics can be dangerous, especially when they leach chemicals out through scratches or cracks in a container.
BPA is a synthetic estrogen that’s been used in many plastics and resins since the 1960s. And it’s a known endocrine disruptor, which means it messes with the natural balance of hormones in our bodies. BPA resins can be used inside products like metal food cans as sealants, while polycarbonate BPA plastics can include water bottles and food storage containers. BPA even shows up on the shiny side of receipt paper, to stabilize the ink.
While many plastic manufacturers have started labeling their products as “BPA-free,” there’s still a lot of the breast and prostate cancer-causing stuff around.