In addition to the 107 carcinogenic factors already classified by the WHO, there are additional environmental factors and chemical substances whose carcinogenic properties have generated a level of scientific debate.
The significance (or influence) that genetic predisposition (genome) has upon the risk of cancer developing is no greater than 25% and so our interaction with the environment is responsible for more than 75% of the risk factors associated with cancer. There are currently more environmental factors than before that are linked to cancer which is driving scientific debate and concern amongst the population, such as bisphenol A, mobile phones, artificial sweeteners, pesticides and overhead power lines.
Neolife medical management
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in developed countries around the world. Whilst mortality is falling, and will continue to do so, due to advances in medical treatment, and although their incidence is also decreasing, it is estimated that incidences of cancer will rise once more in the forthcoming years due to the increase in life expectancy.
We already know that cancer, like cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes are, for the most part, diseases commonly associated with the ageing process. However, our genetic predisposition (the genome) and our interaction with the environment (the background elements) are determining factors in predicting the risk of said diseases.
The significance (or influence) that genetic predisposition (genome) has upon the risk of cancer developing is no greater than 20%-25%, so the other background elements are responsible for more than 75%-80% of this risk factors associated with cancer. The background elements consist of our lifestyle habits which can include whether or not the person in question smokes (30% significance), nutrition and exercise (35%), stress, exposure to carcinogenic factors, etc.
In terms of these carcinogenic factors, the WHO has classified 107 of them which includes tobacco, ultraviolet rays, asbestos, arsenic and ionizing radiation – all of which have proven carcinogenic effects on humans. However, there are many other environmental factors and chemical substances whose carcinogenic properties have driven scientific debate and concern amongst the population. Medscape Oncology(1) has chosen 5 of these factors:
- Bisphenol A
- Mobile phones
- Artificial sweeteners
- Overhead power lines
Bisphenol A and mobile phones – the possible carcinogenic factors.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is one of the most common chemicals in our society: it is in our plastic bags and bottles, furniture, toys, food packaging, contact lenses, vehicles…many of which we come into direct contact with through our mucous membranes and skin. BPA is an endocrinological disrupter, that is to say, it is a substance that alters our hormonal balance by introducing a chemical structure similar but not equal to our own natural hormones, specifically estradiol. More and more scientific literature has linked BPA to breast and prostate cancer as well as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and infertility. In conclusion, it is perceivable to argue that BPA does cause cancer.
The relationship between cancer and the use of mobile phones notably brain cancer has been investigated for more than 20 years. Whilst some authors believe that the doses of electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobiles is insufficient to cause cellular alterations at a DNA level, others have presented epidemiological and experimental studies demonstrating a correlation between mobile phone use and cancer at a cellular level. One of the latest studies published in 2014(2) linked the use of mobile and wireless phones to an elevated risk of gliomas, particularly amongst those who have been using phones for periods greater than 25 years. In conclusion, it is perceivable to argue that mobile phones do in some way affect brain tumors.
Artificial sweeteners have not yet been shown to be carcinogenic.
Artificial sweeteners and their relationship to cancer has been studied for a period of more than 40 years. The FDA have already banned cyclamate and tried to ban saccharin. Initial rat studies appeared to demonstrate a relationship between bladder cancer and significant saccharin consumption, although this relationship has not been fully verified in human test subjects. Similarly, more recent studies have not been able to demonstrate that there is a direct carcinogenic effect caused by aspartame and other modern sweeteners, such as sucralose. In conclusion, although there is a lot of negative press associated with artificial sweeteners and their relationship with cancer, there is no genuine scientific evidence to support these claims.
Agricultural pesticides and overhead power lines are often associated with specific types of cancer and certain population groups.
The relationship between agricultural pesticides and cancer is difficult to discern. Interestingly, farmers and rural people, who are more exposed to pesticides, have a lower overall incidence of cancer, which could be related to their higher level of physical activity and less cancer-related behaviors such as smoking; however, they suffer with higher than normal incidence of certain types of cancers such as prostate, multiple myeloma and some types of lymphoma. In conclusion, it is perceivable that significant exposure (in the case of farmers and other rural workers) to certain pesticides may be related to certain types of cancer but there does not appear to be a significant risk to the general population.
Overhead power lines and their relationship with cancer has been studied for more than 30 years – most recently when there was an increase in leukemia in children who lived near such power lines. Overhead power lines are known to produce magnetic fields of a lesser magnitude than mobile phones, which could some have argued be associated with an increased risk of suffering from leukemia for children. However, there is no evidence that overhead power lines are associated with any other type of cancer in either children or adults.
At Neolife we are aware of the current scientific debate surrounding the effects of background elements on our health, and as a result our Preventive Anti-ageing Medicine programs continue to make recommendations to reflect this uncertainty. Although we do not intend to adopt obsessive attitudes, we do consider it important that you are informed about what is good or bad for your health. In this sense, our recommendation is as follows:
- Avoid the consumption of foods and liquids packed in plastic
- Try to turn off or remove mobile phones, tablets and computers from our bedrooms
- Consume brown sugar instead of artificial sweeteners
- Consume organic natural products rather than products which have been produced using intensive farming methods
- March 2015. Volume 22, Issue 1, Pages 1–13 https://goo.gl/MT445V