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What are carcinogens in everyday life?

The cause of cancer is still unclear. The exact reason for what causes normal cells to transform into cancer cells has not been identified. In recent years, in the medical community, damage to genes or cell mutations due to abnormalities in metabolic processes have been pointed out as the main causes of cancer.

There are many possible causes of cell mutation. Cells exposed to ultraviolet rays often encountered in daily life cause abnormalities, destroying DNA, leading to skin cancer, and chemicals absorbed into the body through various foods and respiratory organs also damage the DNA of normal cells in our body. However, if the degree of damage to this DNA is not severe, most of them are naturally healed and normalized.

Various substances that can cause cancer by invoking cell abnormalities are called ‘carcinogens’. There are thousands of these carcinogens. Carcinogens are contained in everything we breathe, drink, eat and wear. There are a significant number of carcinogens that have been identified so far, and it is predicted that there will be many carcinogens that have not yet been identified. The reason that cancer incidence rates are increasing day by day despite the advanced medical technology of modern times is that the number of carcinogens encountered by humans continues to increase. Representative carcinogens known to date are as follows.


The strong ultraviolet rays in sunlight are known to be the main culprit in promoting the aging of skin cells. Ultraviolet rays have the function of destroying and transforming DNA in cells as well as aging cells. In this process, normal cells cause abnormal mutations and become cancer cells. In particular, UV-induced cancer is well-prone in skin that is directly touched. In fact, in the case of the United States, it is reported that about half of skin cancers are caused by sunlight. Among them, fatal melanoma is also included, so caution is required. You need to be careful, such as applying sunscreen often and not staying in the sun for as long as possible.


Repeated exposure to radiation can cause abnormal deformation of cells in the exposed area, resulting in cancer. This is also called radiation cancer. Most of them are skin cancer caused by radiation (ultraviolet rays) in the sun. However, when artificially exposed to radiation for a specific treatment, cancer may occur in organs or bones depending on the exposed area. Therefore, even in the medical community, it is recommended to selectively receive examinations (CT, PET-CT, X-rays of the head and neck and breasts) exposed to radiation only when absolutely necessary.

Hepatitis B virus

Hepatitis B virus is closely related to liver cancer. Although there is no evidence that it is a direct cause of liver cancer, it has not been determined as a causative virus. However, through various epidemiological investigations and animal experiments, hepatitis is caused by the hepatitis B virus, and then chronic liver cirrhosis is followed by liver cancer. I can confirm. Therefore, hepatitis B virus vaccination is recommended to prevent liver cancer.


Benzene, which is linked to leukemia and bone marrow cancer, is a very toxic and dangerous chemical, but it is a carcinogen that is encountered relatively often in daily life. It is used as a raw material for pharmaceuticals, plastics, and synthetic rubber, and even in very small amounts, it has been reported that it was also found in foods such as cereal, tea, ice cream, and yogurt.


Asbestos, a mineral fiber, is used as a friction material, sound-absorbing material, and building material. When exposed to asbestos dust for a long time, asbestos fibers can accumulate in the lungs, causing various lung diseases, including pneumoconiosis, and among them, it can cause serious cancers such as lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma. It is mainly caused by people working in asbestos mines and construction sites, but cancer is also caused by inhaling dust mixed with asbestos from new or old houses for a long time.


Black soot can also cause cancer. This is not surprising considering the various toxic gases produced when chemicals are burned. However, even when wood, which is not a chemical product, is burned, toxic substances that are not completely burned remain, some of which cause cancer. Among them are carcinogenic hydrogen carbonate and benzopyrene.


It is an environmental hormone produced in the process of incomplete combustion such as fossil fuels. It is known to cause cancer, especially stomach cancer, if consumed over a certain concentration for several decades. In cities where air pollution is severe due to a large amount of exhaust gas, it can enter the human body through breathing. However, rather than that, it is often consumed in the process of heating and cooking food. Especially, it occurs a lot when meat is heated directly. In order to avoid benzopyrene, you should avoid direct grilling recipes such as charcoal fire, and be careful with wearing a mask where there is a lot of smoke.

Helicobacter pylori

Helicobacter pylori is a parasite that lives in the gastric mucosa and causes gastritis and gastric ulcer. If gastritis becomes chronic due to Helicobacter pylori, it can lead to stomach cancer. Frequent gastritis becomes chronic due to atrophic gastritis, and develops again into intestinal epithelial metaplasia (intestinal epithelial cells in the stomach), because this can be seen as a preceding symptom of gastric cancer.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

It refers to a hydrocarbon compound that volatilizes in the atmosphere and generates odor or ozone. It is a carcinogen that causes disorders in the nervous system through skin contact or respiratory inhalation. Benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, xylene, ethylene, styrene, acetaldehyde, and the like are included.


It has been argued that long-term exposure to electromagnetic waves generated by electric devices is harmful to the human body. Although it is still speculation, the relationship between cancer and electromagnetic waves is receiving new attention as the International Cancer Institute (IARC) classifies electromagnetic waves into group 2B (possibly causing cancer). The cell phone was particularly pointed out as a dangerous electromagnetic wave. It warns that brain cancer can occur because it is attached to the ear and used. In addition, there is a study that shows that prolonged exposure to electromagnetic waves increases the risk of prostate cancer in men and leukemia in children.

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