What causes cancer?

What causes cancer?
Cancer is not usually caused by any one factor, it can be caused by many different things, and the reasons for its cause are still largely unknown. However, scientists have been able to determine that it can develop in the body due to:
  • Carcinogens
    • There are certain cancer-causing factors in the environment known as carcinogens. When people are exposed to these carcinogens, they may develop cancer.
    • Smoking tobacco, pollution and asbestos are all examples of carcinogens which can cause cancer to develop in some people.
  • Genetics
    • Some people are more genetically prone to develop certain types of cancer, especially if it runs in the family.
    • Certain types of cancers, such as retinoblastoma, are caused by genetic mutations.
What are risk factors?
Although there are many types of cancer for which the exact cause is unknown, scientists have been able to identify risk factors for certain cancers which have been known to increase the risk of developing them.
Examples of risk factors:
  • Prolonged exposure to the sun without sun protection is considered a risk factor for skin cancer. 
  • Smoking
  • Eating unhealthily
  • Obesity
  • Genetics (for example, if you are a woman and breast cancer has affected your mother, sister, aunt or grandmother, you may have an increased risk of developing it too.
  • Unsafe exposure to pollutants or radioactivity 
Will a person with risk factors develop cancer?
No, it is not certain and we can't know for sure. For example, we can't say that a person who is out in the sun a lot without sun protection (such as wearing a hat or wearing sunscreen) is definitely going to get cancer. It just means that they have an increased risk of developing skin cancer compared to people who take the proper precautions before being exposed to the sun.
What if a person has no risk factors?
Unfortunately, a person who has no risk factors at all can still develop cancer. However, those that live a healthy lifestyle can vastly reduce their risk of developing up to 40% of cancers, so your health is truly in your hands.