5 Unexpected Culprits That Can Elevate the Risk of Cancer

Cancer is a killer disease that claims millions of lives and leads to billions of dollars in healthcare costs worldwide every year. The estimated number of new cancer cases in the US in 2022 was 1.9 million, while 609,360 cancer deaths were recorded in the same year. Despite the progress in research and treatment, the disease continues to pose a massive burden for the country.

A better understanding of risk factors can be a viable strategy to reduce the prevalence of cancer. Risk defines how susceptible you are to developing cancer. For patients in recovery, it determines the chances of a recurrence. Research and awareness can improve the health of many people as they can avoid the risk factors. It can help minimize the possibility of developing the disease and facilitate early diagnosis.

According to the CDC, cancer risk factors include obesity, alcohol consumption, tobacco abuse, family history, and a sedentary lifestyle. Fortunately, most people are aware of these factors, leading to a better prognosis for them. However, some unexpected culprits may also increase your probability of developing cancer. Knowing these hidden dangers is essential to save yourself from fatality.

We have a list of lesser-known cancer risks everyone should know about.

Firefighting Foam

Although firefighting foam is a lifesaver amid dire situations, it can be a silent killer for firefighters and people bearing prolonged exposure. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the foam elevate the risk of cancer. Research links exposure to PFAS-containing AFFF to an elevated risk of thyroid, prostate, kidney, colon, bladder, and testicular cancer.

Besides the scientific evidence, a growing number of firefighting foam cancer lawsuits in the US reinforces the threat it poses. Additionally, many institutions and agencies are implementing measures to curb the use of firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals and replace them with non-carcinogenic alternatives.

According to TorHoerman Law, anyone suffering from cancer due to firefighting foam can claim compensation for their treatment costs, wage loss, and suffering. However, they should establish a link between the exposure and their health condition.

Pesticides and Herbicides

If you are an avid gardener or a farmer, you may be at risk of developing cancer due to exposure to pesticides and herbicides. While these products protect your plants and crops from pests and weeds, they can cause extensive damage to your health.

Several research studies link the use of pesticides with a high risk of bladder and prostate cancers, lymphoma, and leukemia. Exposure to chemicals glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup also increases the risk of cancer as suggested by scientific studies. The effect may take years to show up because carcinogens are harmful, even when they enter your system in the smallest amounts.

Agricultural workers and home gardeners can mitigate this risk by adopting organic farming practices and using natural pest control methods. These measures ensure the best health for your plants and body.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Did you know that women opting for hormonal replacement therapy to deal with the adverse effects of menopause may fall prey to cancer? According to research, higher-dose combination HRT elevates the risk of breast cancer more than the lower-dose variant. Combination HRT may prevent early detection as it increases breast density, affecting mammogram results.

Hormone replacement therapy may also increase the likelihood of ovarian cancer, with synthetic hormones stimulating the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors. Women should carefully weigh the benefits and risks of HRT and seek alternative treatments from healthcare providers to manage menopausal symptoms.

Tanning Beds

Nothing sounds better than getting an attractive sun-kissed glow by relaxing on a tanning bed indoors. You don’t need to wait for an annual beachside holiday or spend a fortune on it to gain a gorgeous complexion. However, tanning beds emit ultraviolet (UV) radiation that leads to a risk of skin cancer due to damage to the DNA in skin cells.

A meta-analysis showed that people using tanning beds before the age of 35 had a 1.75-fold higher probability of melanoma. Since this factor is lifestyle-related, public awareness is a key preventive measure. Cancer is a huge price to pay for tanning your skin, so you should steer clear of the idea.

Air Pollution

Air pollution does more than harm your lungs and cause respiratory issues. It may contain a mix of harmful substances, such as particulate matter, heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds. Prolonged exposure to these toxins makes one vulnerable to lung cancer. According to statistics, air pollution alone is responsible for 29% of all lung cancer deaths.

Public awareness and government actions are required to lower this unusual risk of cancer on a large scale. Steps such as implementing stringent emission standards, transitioning to cleaner energy sources, and encouraging public transportation can make a difference. Also, people should wear protective masks to prevent inhalation of toxins.


Several risk factors may lead to cancer, and it is impossible to eliminate all of them. However, awareness and proactive measures can make a significant difference. Besides knowing the common threats, you should understand these unexpected culprits and build your defenses against them. With the right measures on a broader level, it is possible to create a healthier and cancer-free future.