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Beyond Cell Phones: 13 Known And Possible Carcinogens

Cell Phones Cancer

First Posted: 06/02/11 10:30 AM ET Updated: 08/02/11 06:12 AM ET

The World Health Organization made headlines Tuesday when they announced that cell phones could possibly cause cancer. Since then, there's been a lot of discussion about how serious the findings really are.

The WHO's cancer research arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, classified cell phones as a class "2b": possible carcinogen. The IARC has also identified "known" and "probable" carcinogens -- including a few others some of us come into contact with on a regular basis.

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  • Coffee

    Coffee's a tricky one. Experts still aren't completely sure whether drinking coffee does more good than bad, as studies have shown it decreasing the risk of certain cancers but raising the risk of others. Research has shown that drinking <a href="http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/05/17/jnci.djr151" target="_hplink">six cups of coffee</a> every day can decrease the risk of prostate cancer, while drinking five or more cups of coffee a day lowers the risk of a certain kind of<a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42991809/ns/health-cancer/t/coffee-habit-may-protect-against-breast-cancer/" target="_hplink"> breast cancer</a> by 57 percent. However additional research suggests drinking at least two cups a day could <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19362749" target="_hplink">increase the risk of lung cancer</a> by 14 percent. <strong>Classified: </strong>Possible carcinogen

  • Pickled Vegetables

    Eating pickled vegetables, as is common in Asian cultures, can raise the risk of certain kinds of cancer, including <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19862003" target="_hplink">esophageal cancer</a> and gastric cancer. One study that looked at the eating habits of Japanese and Korean people found a link between those who mainly ate pickled vegetables and <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19860848" target="_hplink">risk of gastric cancer</a> than people who said they mainly ate fresh vegetables. <strong>Classified: </strong>Possible carcinogen.

  • Alcoholic Beverages

    Alcohol may have low health risks when consumed in moderation (two drinks max per day for men and one for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), but that doesn't mean it's completely faultless. Alcohol is linked with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/08/cancer-from-alcohol_n_846610.html" target="_hplink">10 percent of all cancers in men</a> and 3 percent of cancers in women, according to a recent study, and drinking too much raises the risk of breast, throat and liver cancer. <strong>Classified:</strong> Known carcinogen

  • Tanning beds

    A "healthy" tan may not be so healthy after all, as use of tanning beds is known to increase the risk of skin cancer. One study showed that the <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32187497/ns/health-cancer/t/study-tanning-beds-can-be-deadly-arsenic/" target="_hplink">risk of skin cancer</a> rockets up by 75 percent when people use tanning beds before they hit age 30. For years, the IARC had considered sun beds and sun lamps to be "probable carcinogens," but they were bumped up to "known carcinogens" in 2009. <strong>Classified:</strong> Known carcinogen

  • Talcum Powder

    Health experts aren't completely clear if talcum powder, used to keep skin dry and minimize rashes, is a definite cause of cancer. Talcum powder with asbestos, which is no longer used today, is a known carcinogen, but recent research suggests that use of talcum powder without asbestos (the kind that is used today) near the genital region can <a href="http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/talcum-powder-and-cancer" target="_hplink">increase the risk of ovarian cancer</a> by 30 percent. That's because the powder may be able to travel to the ovaries through the vagina, uterus or fallopian tubes. <strong>Classified:</strong> Possible carcinogen

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy

    Hormone replacement therapy -- taking estrogen or estrogen and progestin to relieve the symptoms of menopause, via a pill, patch or ring-- has also been linked with an increased risk of breast, ovarian, endometrial and uterine cancers. That's why doctors recommend taking <a href="http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/medicaltreatments/menopausal-hormone-replacement-therapy-and-cancer-risk" target="_hplink">hormone replacement therapy</a> at the lowest dose and the shortest amount of time to relieve menopausal symptoms. <strong>Classified:</strong> Known carcinogen

  • Occupational Exposure

    Certain careers could up your cancer risk, according to the IARC. People who work in dry cleaning are exposed to chemical fumes and solvents shown to increase the risk of <a href="http://www.cancer.org/cancer/esophaguscancer/detailedguide/esophagus-cancer-risk-factors" target="_hplink">esophageal cancer</a>, while people who <a href="http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/38/6/1512.full.pdf" target="_hplink">work as hairdressers</a> or barbers could have an increased risk of lung and bladder cancer when exposed to certain toxins. <strong>Dry cleaning: </strong>Possible carcinogen <strong>Hairdresser or barber: </strong>Probable carcinogen

  • Ultraviolet Radiation

    Catching too many UV rays from the sun not only damages skin appearance, but it can also <a href="http://www.cancer.gov/melanomarisktool/melanoma-cancer-risk.html" target="_hplink">raise the risk of skin cancer</a>. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is more common in people who live in sun-kissed states, like California, than colder states, like Minnesota. <strong>Classified: </strong>Known carcinogen

  • Cadmium

    Cadmium made headlines last year when it was found at high levels in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/19/mileys-cyrus-toxic-walmar_n_582020.html" target="_hplink">Miley Cyrus-branded necklaces and bracelets</a> from Wal-Mart. Even though cadmium is safe when simply worn, it can be dangerous and carcinogenic if it's ingested. Studies have shown that exposure to cadmium, through smoking or metalworking, increases the <a href="http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/9/2/139.full" target="_hplink">risk of pancreatic cancer</a>. <strong>Classified:</strong> Known carcinogen

  • Formaldehyde

    Formaldehyde is a flammable chemical that is released into the air through car exhaust, or from chemicals used in labs, factories and mortuaries. <a href="http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/formaldehyde#r2" target="_hplink">Formaldehyde</a> is associated with nasal cancer in rats, as well as myeloid leukemia in funeral home workers and textile workers. <strong>Classified: </strong>Known carcinogen

  • Tamoxifen

    Tamoxifen, a drug commonly used to treat breast cancer, has in some cases been shown to <a href="http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/tamoxifen" target="_hplink">increase the risk of uterine cancer</a>. However, these risks are low compared to the benefit of taking tamoxifen to treat breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. <strong>Classified:</strong> Known carcinogen

  • Smokeless Tobacco

    Just because <a href="http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Tobacco/smokeless" target="_hplink">smokeless tobacco</a> isn't burned, doesn't make it benign. There are at least 28 chemicals in smokeless tobacco, which includes snuff and chewing tobacco, that are known to cause oral, esophageal and pancreatic cancer. <strong>Classified: </strong>Known carcinogen

  • Asbestos

    Asbestos, which is used as bundled fibers for insulation and strengthening cement, is known to cause cancer when asbestos fibers are released into the air and inhaled. <a href="http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/asbestos" target="_hplink">Asbestos inhalation</a> is known to raise the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer of the membranes that line the abdomen and chest. <strong>Classified: </strong>Known carcinogen

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Filed by Amanda L. Chan  |