Cancer is a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. There are many different kinds of cancers which can develop in almost any organ or tissue in the body, at any stage in life. In 90% of cases, cancer occurs due to exposure to one or more carcinogens (cancer causing agents) throughout our lifetime. These carcinogens may cause a cell to become mutated, and ultimately cause cancer.
 
A list of well known carcinogens can be found below:
  • Ionising radiation (found in X-Rays)
  • Ultraviolet radiation (from the sun)
  • Asbestos
  • Benzopyrene (found in cigarette smoke)
  • Hetrocyclic amines (found in over-cooked foods)
 
With a few simple lifestyle changes, you can drastically reduce your risk of many types of cancer:
 
Avoid smoking
By quitting smoking, or never starting in the first place, you can reduce your risk of many types of cancer including lung, throat and tongue. Avoiding second hand smoke, from cigarettes or pipes is also important as passive smoking can be very harmful.
 
Be safe in the sun
Rays from the sun can cause sunburn, premature ageing and are also one of the main causes of skin cancer, or melanoma. We can prevent melanoma from occurring by wearing sun cream, avoiding the harsh rays of the mid-day sun, wearing protective clothing when outdoors, and by staying away from tanning beds.
 
Know what your are exposed to in work
Chemicals in the workplace may increase your risk of developing many types of cancer. Gasoline, diesel exhaust, arsenic, beryllium, vinyl chloride, nickel chromates, coal products, mustard gas, and chloromethyl ethers are all carcinogens that can be found in some work environments. Be sure to talk to your employer about limiting exposure if any of these are present in your work place. 
 
Get screened for cancer regularly
Cancer screening tests are available across Ireland and are vital for not only detecting cancer, but preventing it as well. These tests can detect abnormal cell changes before they turn cancerous. The key to the success of these tests is that they are carried out regularly.
 

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