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What are some common causes of cancer?

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Quick Answer

There are many types of cancer with a wide variety of potential causes, including genetics, lifestyle, infections and environmental exposure, according to the American Cancer Society. While it is possible to control some of these risk factors, others are beyond human control.

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Full Answer

Inherited genetic mutations are a major cause of 5 to 10 percent of all cancers, explains the National Cancer Institute. There are over 50 cancer syndromes that predispose an individual to developing a certain type of cancer. If a person has a family history of one or more of these types of cancer, a doctor may recommend genetic testing to determine if he has the gene mutation.

Lifestyle choices that sometimes lead to cancer include the use of tobacco products, diet, exercise, use of alcohol and sun exposure, reports the American Cancer Society. Tobacco use accounts for 30 percent of all cancer deaths. It is the leading cause of lung cancer, the most preventable type of cancer. While smokeless tobacco causes fewer deaths than smoking, it also increases the risk of cancer.

Around the world, 19 percent of all cancers are due to environmental factors, states the World Health Organization. As of 2015, WHO identifies 107 agents, mixtures and exposure situations that cause cancer in humans. It indicates that every 10th death from lung cancer is due to workplace exposures.

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