This is Everything that Can Give You Cancer (All 116 Things)

Earlier this week, the world became a little bleaker when The World Health Organization announced a link between processed meat (including bacon, sausages, and ham) to colon cancer.

It got us thinking that – while we’ve known processed meat isn’t exactly the healthiest thing for you – it seems too much of pretty much anything can have brutally negative consequences on your health.

Despite advances in both screening and treatment, at least a few times a year, most of us hear of a friend-of-a-friend, a friend’s parent, or a professional acquaintance who has been diagnosed with cancer. Though we know well enough that cancer doesn’t discriminate, and have seen it strike the healthiest of individuals, there are obviously habits and activities that may heighten our chances of developing the disease.


With that said, we feel it’s time for a refresher when it comes to the things that have been linked to cancer. Luckily, The Guardian saved us the trouble and put together a list of the 116 substances and activities that are now considered to cause cancer, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

The IARC splits the list into three categories, which it calls “exposure circumstances,” “mixtures,” and “agents.” we’ve included the entire list at the bottom, but first, we’ve simply outlined the five major culprits in each category:

Carcinogenic Exposure Circumstances

1. Tobacco smoking:
Well, this is not exactly a shocker to anyone. Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, more than 70 of which cause cancer.

2. Sunlamps and sunbeds:
This isn’t a surprise either, though we’re thankfully seeing fewer of them around these days. Becoming a frequent tanner comes with the risk of overexposure to UV radiation, which can cause skin cancer, cataracts, and premature skin ageing.

3. Aluminium production:
Increased lung and bladder cancer risks have been documented in workers in aluminium reduction plants, thanks to the inhalation of chemical fumes and exposure to coal-tar pitch volatiles for long periods.

4. Arsenic in drinking water:
If the highly toxic chemical arsenic gets into the drinking water supply, it can cause skin cancer, and is linked to causing liver, lung, kidney, and bladder cancer. The chemical is used to make certain alloys used in the manufacturing industry.

5. Auramine production:
The Guardian points to a study that documents an excess of bladder tumours among men engaged in the manufacture of aura mine, which can be used as an antiseptic agent as well as to make dyes, through inhaling harmful agents, such as formaldehyde and sulphur, during the manufacturing process.


Carcinogenic Mixtures 

1. Naturally occurring mixtures of aflatoxins:
Among the most carcinogenic substances known are toxins produced by certain species of fungi, which are linked to increased risk of liver cancer, according to The Guardian.

2. Alcoholic beverages:
If alcohol’s your vice, it may be almost as harmful.  According to IARC, alcoholic beverage consumption is a cause of breast,  colorectal, larynx, liver, oesophagus, oral cavity, and pharynx cancers, and as a probable cause of pancreatic cancer.

3. Areca nut:
The mild stimulant areca nut is known to cause increased risk of mouth and oesophageal cancer.

4. Betel quid without tobacco:
Betel quid, a leaf indigenous to Asia, is chewed with areca nut as a stimulant and can increase the risk of oral cancer.

5.  Betel quid with tobacco:
Betel can increase the risk of oral cancer.

Ripe and Raw Betel Nut Or Areca Nut Palm

Carcinogenic agents and groups of agents 

1.  Acetaldehyde

2. 4-Aminobiphenyl

3. Aristolochic acids and plants containing them

4.  Arsenic and arsenic compounds

5.  Asbestos

You can see the entire terrifying list below courtesy The Guardian:


Carcinogenic Exposure Circumstances

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
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


Carcinogenic Mixtures
21 Naturally occurring mixtures of aflatoxins
22 Alcoholic beverages
23 Areca nut
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, analgesic mixtures containing
32 Plants containing aristolochic acid
33 Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
34 Chinese-style salted fish
35 Shale oils
36 Soots
37 Smokeless tobacco products
38 Wood dust
39 Processed meat

meat delicacies

Carcinogenic Agents and Groups of Agents
40 Acetaldehyde
41 4-Aminobiphenyl
42 Aristolochic acids and plants containing them
43 Arsenic and arsenic compounds
44 Asbestos
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

Outdoor Air