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- Patient Comments: Cancer Risk Factors - Tobacco
- Patient Comments: Cancer Risk Factors - Chemicals and Substances
- Patient Comments: Cancer Risk Factors - Family History
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Certain chemicals and other substances
People who have certain jobs (such as painters, construction workers, and those in the chemical industry) have an increased risk of cancer. Many studies have shown that exposure to asbestos, benzene, benzidine, cadmium, nickel, or vinyl chloride in the workplace can cause cancer.
Follow instructions and safety tips to avoid or reduce contact with harmful substances both at work and at home. Although the risk is highest for workers with years of exposure, it makes sense to be careful at home when handling pesticides, used engine oil, paint, solvents, and other chemicals.
Some viruses and bacteria
Being infected with certain viruses or bacteria may increase the risk of developing cancer:
- Human papillomaviruses (HPVs): HPV infection is the main cause of cervical cancer. It also may be a risk factor for other types of cancer.
- Hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses: Liver cancer can develop after many years of infection with hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
- Human T-cell leukemia/lymphoma virus (HTLV-1): Infection with HTLV-1 increases a person's risk of lymphoma and leukemia.
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. People who have HIV infection are at greater risk of cancer, such as lymphoma and a rare cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma.
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV): Infection with EBV has been linked to an increased risk of lymphoma.
- Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8): This virus is a risk factor for Kaposi's sarcoma.
- Helicobacter pylori: This bacterium can cause stomach ulcers. It also can cause stomach cancer and lymphoma in the stomach lining.
Do not have unprotected sex or share needles. You can get an HPV infection by having sex with someone who is infected. You can get hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV infection from having unprotected sex or sharing needles with someone who is infected.
You may want to consider getting the vaccine that prevents hepatitis B infection. Health care workers and others who come into contact with other people's blood should ask their doctor about this vaccine.
If you think you may be at risk for HIV or hepatitis infection, ask your doctor about being tested. These infections may not cause symptoms, but blood tests can show whether the virus is present. If so, the doctor may suggest treatment. Also, the doctor can tell you how to avoid infecting other people.
If you have stomach problems, see a doctor. Infection with H. pylori can be detected and treated.