We have all heard about the much dreaded growth of cancer in the developing and developed world, and it is still a disease whose cure remains just as elusive as its cause. Most often the condition of cancer has been attributed to the developed world as a first world disease, but cancer rates are as high as ever all around the world. More so, the change of environmental conditions and the correlation of increasing cancer rates has prompted many notable scientists to hone in on a line of research that is increasingly linking cancer to environmental factors.
It is already estimated that about 60% of US cancer deaths are caused by smoking and diet. While the causation of smoking and lung cancer has been demonstrated very effectively in a lab set up, lung cancer being the most prevalent cancer in the world today, the relationship between diet and cancer has been somewhat more unclear. The National Institute of Health has drafted a list of 54 environmental compounds that have demonstrated carcinogenic activity , in which a good deal of exposure to such chemicals occur in the occupational setting and show up in some of our foods. A good example of this is acrylamide, which is still permitted as an additive under certain concentrations in some states and many countries. Some occupational carcinogens include benzene, vinyl chloride, asbestos, and hexavalent chromium. While much of this exposure has been controlled in the occupational setting in the United States, these occupational contaminants are leading environmental factors in the developing world.
While a report has indicated that only 2 percent of cancer deaths in the United States is attributable to environmental factors, we cannot ignore the issues of diet and lifestyle that are strongly linked to our environment. For example, various pesticides have been declared to be carcinogenic in the past, and a lot of our food is subject to environmental conditions. The relationship between diet and cancer is even harder to establish given the level of compounding lifestyle factors that effects observation, such as the lack of exercise. However, couldn’t the consumption of fatty foods and charred meats, both researched as having carcinogenic chemical components, be an issue of lifestyle as well. It is a well accepted fact that there is some relationship that connects our environment, food and lifestyle together. After all, an environment can be as specific as the family home or as broad as the earth’s ecology. Aren’t we downplaying the environmental factor in cancer? Perhaps, the environmental “factor” should be extended to something beyond occupational hazards. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-ma