7 Strange Things That Could Raise Your Risk for Cancer

7 Strange Things That Could Raise Your Risk for Cancer

(AscendHealthy.com) – Many of us work hard to limit our exposure to carcinogens; we do our best to eat right, limit alcohol intake and abstain from tobacco. Yet, numerous other factors may tip the balance, many from places that might escape our awareness. Cancer can come from some strange and unexpected sources. Here are seven of the most surprising ones.

1. Frequent Barbecuing

Barbecue smoke contains many chemicals that are hazardous to humans. Exposure to compounds in the smoke called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is so dangerous that experts warn that people who work near barbecues for a living should limit their exposure to less than one hour per day.

Consuming grilled meat can also be dangerous. Cooked food surfaces that directly contact heat sources or become charred are especially toxic.

2. Drinking Piping Hot Beverages

Some people enjoy their coffee or tea most when it’s piping hot — and they may have no idea that the preference could be putting them at risk for esophageal cancer. Most studies show drinking hot or very hot liquids causes burn damage that, over time, could lead to dangerous changes in the cells. We can reduce risks by letting heated drinks cool a little before consuming them.

3. Exposure to Certain Viral Infections

We might think the effects of an infection will end once the immune system has a chance to get it under control, but exposure to some viruses can greatly increase a person’s cancer risks. For example:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV), particularly strains 16 and 18, have been linked to cancers of the cervix, vulva, anus, mouth and throat.
  • Epstein-Barr is responsible for up to 1.5% of all cancer cases across the world.
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes the risks for several types of cancer to skyrocket. In particular, the chances of developing Kaposi sarcoma increase 500-fold, while non-Hodgkin lymphoma risks increase by 12 times and cervical cancer risks triple.

Experts have only begun to scratch the surface on the connections between microbes and different types of cancers. For the little we know, it’s clear that, in some cases, catching the wrong infection can forever alter a person’s life.

4. Working the Late Shift

A group of healthcare officials from across the world recently determined people who worked late-night shifts were more likely to develop breast, prostate or colorectal cancer. Research has shown disruptions in the normal circadian rhythm could be to blame. It appears that our bodies rely on these natural rhythms to determine when to address damaged DNA; disruptions to those patterns may confuse the body and lead to delayed repairs and higher cancer risks.

5. Your Weight and Height

According to the American Cancer Society, being overweight increases cancer risks by 5% in men and 11% in women. About half of all women with endometrial cancer carry excess weight, and heavier women account for a disproportionate number of post-menopausal breast cancer cases. In men, weight may affect the odds of developing prostate or male breast cancer.

BMI might not be all to blame, however. Korean research has shown being unusually tall raises a person’s risk of developing every type of malignancy, save cancer of the esophagus. Women are more likely to see this effect.

6. Having Breast Implants

The FDA warns that all women who’ve had breast implants are at risk of developing breast implant-associated lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). Risks may be even higher in people who received textured or silicone-filled implants. Cancer usually begins in the scar tissue between the remaining breast tissue and the implant, but it can spread from there. Women who’ve had implants and notice swelling or the presence of a mass should seek medical evaluation as soon as possible.

7. Having an Autoimmune Disease

An estimated 23.5 million people suffer from autoimmune diseases in the United States alone, and many of them could be at increased risk for cancer. For example, patients with scleroderma appear to be particularly susceptible to breast, lung and hematological cancers. People with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have higher rates of at least 16 different types of cancer.

Some researchers believe the chronic inflammation these conditions cause could be one trigger, although additional factors may be involved. There could be genetic connections between autoimmune thyroid disease and thyroid cancer. More research is necessary to determine how these connections affect sufferers and why some autoimmune diseases appear to have higher cancer risks than others.

Our cancer risks might not always be clear to us, and some people have additional factors they must consider. Our bodies are each as individual as we are, so even if we have higher risks in one area, we may reduce their impact in others. Address any concerns or unusual health changes with a doctor to stay on top of most issues and catch possible problems as early as possible.

~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension

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