Exposure to several substances found in the home can
increase the risk of cancer, which is the second leading cause of death among
adults and children in the U.S. According to the American Cancer Society, environmental
factors including tobacco, chemicals, infectious diseases, and radiation are responsible
for three-quarters of all cancer deaths in the U.S. While many adult cancers can
be traced to these environmental factors, the causes of most childhood cancers
are unknown. Like many environmentally related diseases, cancer
disproportionately affects certain populations. It takes a greater
toll on African-Americans, who are more likely to develop and die from cancer
than persons from other racial and ethnic groups.
According to the American Cancer Society, smoking, unhealthy
diet, and physical inactivity play a greater role in determining cancer risk
than exposure to trace levels of pollutants in food, air, and drinking water.
However, the degree of risk from chemical exposure depends on the concentration
and duration of exposure. Individuals exposed to high concentrations of cancer-causing
substances bear a significantly higher risk of developing cancer. At the same
time, widespread exposure to low concentrations of carcinogens can increase
the risk of cancer across the population as a whole. For environmentally related
cancers, ten or more years typically pass between exposure to cancer-causing
substances and detectable cancer.
Several substances that may be found in or around the home,
such as radon, some pesticides,
formaldehyde, and arsenic,
are known carcinogens. Becoming aware of these substances and their potential
risks is the first step in reducing potential exposures.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry -ToxFAQs - fact sheets
with basic information on various environmental contaminants, including cancer-related
materials such as specific pesticides, radon and asbestos.
Cancer Institute - The National Cancer Institute is the federal
government’s main agency for cancer-related research, education, and training.
It also operates the Cancer Information
Service to assist the public in interpreting the results and status
of scientific cancer research studies.
National Childhood Cancer Foundation, Children's Oncology
Group - CureSearch
Information Service: 1-800-4-CANCER [1-800-442-6237]
The National Cancer Institute provides the Cancer Information Service to serve
the public in understanding scientific cancer research findings
Su Familia (Your Family): 1-866-SU FAMILIA or
Alliance for Hispanic Health sponsors this helpline to offer
Hispanic consumers free, reliable and confidential health information in Spanish
and English and help navigate callers through the health system.