» Indoor Health Matters

Reduce Cancer Risk Factors in Your Environment

Posted by John on September 20th, 2008

Cancer is now the leading cause of death worldwide. While there is a genetic component to cancer, you can reduce your risk greatly by exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, and avoiding carcinogens in your environment.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) points out the most common environmental carcinogens:

Air Pollution

radon detectionRadon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that forms in soil and rock, and it can build up to dangerous levels in your home undetected. Exposure to radon is a known cause of lung cancer, and this stealthy gas may kill over 30,000 Americans per year. Install a radon detection kit to protect your family.

air purifiers for smokeSecondhand smoke kills. Also known as environmental tobacco smoke, or ETS, tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 different compounds, and at least 60 of them are known to cause cancer. The ACS estimates that ETS causes up to 300,000 lung infections in young children each year. Try to limit all smoking to outdoors, but if that’s not possible, set up an air cleaner for smoke indoors.

Prolonged exposure to diesel exhaust increases the risk of cancer, too. Try to limit your time in high-traffic areas, and don’t drive immediately behind large trucks and buses.


There are many different kinds of cancer-causing radiation. For example, research suggests that radiofrequency radiation from cell phones may increase the risk of brain cancer. You can move the cell phone radiation away from your body by using an ear piece.

Sunlight is another form of radiation. Excessive exposure to UV radiation in sunlight can increase cancer risk. Do not stay in the sun long enough for your skin to burn. If you’re going to be in the sun for a long period of time, wear appropriate clothing, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses – but don’t completely avoid the sun. Regular exposure to sunlight (without burning) is healthy and beneficial. Avoid artificial tanning beds, which can also damage the skin and increase cancer risk.


Various chemicals, such as benzene, asbestos, MTBE, tetrachlorethylene, and arsenic, are known to increase cancer risk. Dangerous exposure to such chemicals typically occurs in industrial settings, but it can happen at home. Air cleaners for chemicals will eliminate most of these dangerous chemicals from the environment.

water filtersFluoridated water may increase cancer risk as well. Many water treatment plants still add fluoride to water. The ACS cautions, “People who live in areas with high levels of fluoride in the water may want to consider using alternative sources of drinking water.” Many home water purifiers are capable of filtering out fluoride.

Consumer Products

Many permanent hair dyes may be carcinogenic. If you dye your hair, don’t leave the dye on your head any longer than necessary. Talcum powder produced from talc may contain asbestos. In the United States, all-home use talcum products like baby powders have been required by law to be asbestos-free. Extended use of talcum powder may still increase cancer risk; use cornstarch-based powders instead.

Infectious Agents

steam cleaners Viruses, bacteria, and parasites may increase cancer risk through long-term inflammation, suppressing the immune system, or affecting a cell’s DNA. Keep your home clean and germ-free by cleaning regularly with high-efficiency vacuum cleaners and steamers. Steamers, or vapor steam cleaners, use only water and steam to kill germs, so you can throw out those toxic cleaning chemicals.

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