You already know cigarettes, asbestos, and arsenic can cause cancer, but what about the carcinogens you don’t know about? The ones you may be exposed to everyday at work, from your take-out food or lifestyle choices that are seemingly benign?
A new report issued by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and other global-leading health groups have outlined 20 “suspected” cancer-causing agents that previous research has raised substantial concerns about, but that remain unresolved. Researchers say a knowledge gap exists, so more research is needed to know if these commonly used occupational agents definitively cause cancer in humans.
So what are these agents and who’s at risk? Here are four of the most common.
Styrene and its chemical compound cousin, styrene-7,-8-oxide, is ubiquitous in our daily lives as a key component in synthetic rubbers, fiberglass and a wide array of consumer products—from food packaging and plastic, to carpet backing and cigarette smoke.
Does it have a cancer link?
Yes. In 1994 styrene and styrene-7,-8-oxide was classified as “probably carcinogenic” to humans because research showed DNA chromosomal damage and gene mutations in styrene workers. Later two main epidemiological studies revealed a potential link between styrene to human blood cancers and pancreatic cancers. Bladder and kidney cancers have also been linked in some studies. Some evidence exists that styrene exposure can potentially increase prolactin and thereby have a potential relationship to breast cancer.
How do I avoid it?
It won’t be easy. For the general public, residues that leach from food packaging appear to be the single largest source of exposure, followed by indoor air quality. Smokers are most exposed though tobacco smoke.
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