The full list of 116 things that cause cancer

Comes following a World Health Organisation report claiming eating processed meat may contribute to cancer

Rose Troup Buchanan
Thursday 29 October 2015 08:29 GMT
A cancer patient receives chemotherapy
A cancer patient receives chemotherapy (Getty)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced earlier this week processed meats were carcinogenic, expanding the ever-increasing list of what can cause cancer.

Now, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an organisation that collects and studies data on the disease, has released an exhaustive list of the 116 items, activities and chemicals that can contribute to cancer.

Although red meat is not on the list – it is only “probable” that the meat causes cancer – other activities to steer clear of include cabinet making (excessive exposure to wood dust has been linked to nasal cancer) and Chinese-style salted fish.

According to the IARC “Contraceptives, oral, sequential forms of hormonal contraception” can also contribute to contracting the disease.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally. An estimated 8.2 million people died of cancer-related diseases in 2012 with the number of deaths expected to rise by around 70 per cent over the next two years, according to data from WHO released earlier this year.

Smoking remains the number one cause of cancer, contributing to roughly 20 per cent of global cancer deaths and around 70 per cent of global lung cancer deaths.

Here is the full list:

  1. Tobacco smoking
  2. Sunlamps and sunbeds
  3. Aluminium production
  4. Arsenic in drinking water
  5. Auramine production
  6. Boot and shoe manufacture and repair
  7. Chimney sweeping
  8. Coal gasification
  9. Coal tar distillation
  10. Coke (fuel) production
  11. Furniture and cabinet making
  12. Haematite mining (underground) with exposure to radon
  13. Secondhand smoke
  14. Iron and steel founding
  15. Isopropanol manufacture (strong-acid process)
  16. Magenta dye manufacturing
  17. Occupational exposure as a painter
  18. Paving and roofing with coal-tar pitch
  19. Rubber industry
  20. Occupational exposure of strong inorganic acid mists containing sulphuric acid
  21. Naturally occurring mixtures of aflatoxins (produced by funghi)
  22. Alcoholic beverages
  23. Areca nut - often chewed with betel leaf
  24. Betel quid without tobacco
  25. Betel quid with tobacco
  26. Coal tar pitches
  27. Coal tars
  28. Indoor emissions from household combustion of coal
  29. Diesel exhaust
  30. Mineral oils, untreated and mildly treated
  31. Phenacetin, a pain and fever reducing drug
  32. Plants containing aristolochic acid (used in Chinese herbal medicine)
  33. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) - widely used in electrical equipment in the past, banned in many countries in the 1970s
  34. Chinese-style salted fish
  35. Shale oils
  36. Soots
  37. Smokeless tobacco products
  38. Wood dust
  39. Processed meat
  40. Acetaldehyde
  41. 4-Aminobiphenyl
  42. Aristolochic acids and plants containing them
  43. Asbestos
  44. Arsenic and arsenic compounds
  45. Azathioprine
  46. Benzene
  47. Benzidine
  48. Benzo[a]pyrene
  49. Beryllium and beryllium compounds
  50. Chlornapazine (N,N-Bis(2-chloroethyl)-2-naphthylamine)
  51. Bis(chloromethyl)ether
  52. Chloromethyl methyl ether
  53. 1,3-Butadiene
  54. 1,4-Butanediol dimethanesulfonate (Busulphan, Myleran)
  55. Cadmium and cadmium compounds
  56. Chlorambucil
  57. Methyl-CCNU (1-(2-Chloroethyl)-3-(4-methylcyclohexyl)-1-nitrosourea; Semustine)
  58. Chromium(VI) compounds
  59. Ciclosporin
  60. Contraceptives, hormonal, combined forms (those containing both oestrogen and a progestogen)
  61. Contraceptives, oral, sequential forms of hormonal contraception (a period of oestrogen-only followed by a period of both oestrogen and a progestogen)
  62. Cyclophosphamide
  63. Diethylstilboestrol
  64. Dyes metabolized to benzidine
  65. Epstein-Barr virus
  66. Oestrogens, nonsteroidal
  67. Oestrogens, steroidal
  68. Oestrogen therapy, postmenopausal
  69. Ethanol in alcoholic beverages
  70. Erionite
  71. Ethylene oxide
  72. Etoposide alone and in combination with cisplatin and bleomycin
  73. Formaldehyde
  74. Gallium arsenide
  75. Helicobacter pylori (infection with)
  76. Hepatitis B virus (chronic infection with)
  77. Hepatitis C virus (chronic infection with)
  78. Herbal remedies containing plant species of the genus Aristolochia
  79. Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (infection with)
  80. Human papillomavirus type 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59 and 66
  81. Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type-I
  82. Melphalan
  83. Methoxsalen (8-Methoxypsoralen) plus ultraviolet A-radiation
  84. 4,4’-methylene-bis(2-chloroaniline) (MOCA)
  85. MOPP and other combined chemotherapy including alkylating agents
  86. Mustard gas (sulphur mustard)
  87. 2-Naphthylamine
  88. Neutron radiation
  89. Nickel compounds
  90. 4-(N-Nitrosomethylamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK)
  91. N-Nitrosonornicotine (NNN)
  92. Opisthorchis viverrini (infection with)
  93. Outdoor air pollution
  94. Particulate matter in outdoor air pollution
  95. Phosphorus-32, as phosphate
  96. Plutonium-239 and its decay products (may contain plutonium-240 and other isotopes), as aerosols
  97. Radioiodines, short-lived isotopes, including iodine-131, from atomic reactor accidents and nuclear weapons detonation (exposure during childhood)
  98. Radionuclides, α-particle-emitting, internally deposited
  99. Radionuclides, β-particle-emitting, internally deposited
  100. Radium-224 and its decay products
  101. Radium-226 and its decay products
  102. Radium-228 and its decay products
  103. Radon-222 and its decay products
  104. Schistosoma haematobium (infection with)
  105. Silica, crystalline (inhaled in the form of quartz or cristobalite from occupational sources)
  106. Solar radiation
  107. Talc containing asbestiform fibres
  108. Tamoxifen
  109. 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin
  110. Thiotepa (1,1’,1”-phosphinothioylidynetrisaziridine)
  111. Thorium-232 and its decay products, administered intravenously as a colloidal dispersion of thorium-232 dioxide
  112. Treosulfan
  113. Ortho-toluidine
  114. Vinyl chloride
  115. Ultraviolet radiation
  116. X-radiation and gamma radiation

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