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Essay on Cancer as an Effect of Pollution
Essay on Cancer as an Effect of Pollution
Chemical or physical factors can cause cancer. Chemical carcinogens include chemical emissions from industry, pollutants from cars and homes, and tobacco smoke. Physical carcinogens include ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and ionizing radiation from X rays and radioactive materials. A number of viruses can cause cancer, as can repeated local injury or recurring irritation to a part of the body. The ability of a carcinogen to cause cancer in an individual also depends on factors such as the person's general health and genetic makeup. Individuals with a genetic predisposition to cancer carry one or more genes that make them more vulnerable to the disease than individuals in the general population.

Adult cancers are ordinarily the result of years of collective damage to cells. The most common adult cancers--skin, prostate, breast, lung, and colon--are not found in children. Childhood cancers are thought to be the result of exposure to toxins during the periods of growth described above. For this reason, 40% of childhood cancers occur in children under five, and most of those are in children less than one year old. Cancer rates decrease in later childhood but rise again in adolescence.

Childhood cancers are relatively rare. They account for only 2% of the total cancer cases in the United States. Still, cancer kills more children than anything else besides injuries. Childhood cancer rates have risen over the past few decades: about 1.8% per year for brain cancer and 1% per year for leukemia. Due to improved treatments, rising illness rates have corresponded with decreasing death rates for most childhood cancers. Brain cancer is the exception: Here, death rates have doubled in the last 25 years. The rates of the different cancers in children vary with age.

The difficulty of assigning blame for an illness to a particular cause is illustrated by epidemiological studies of childhood cancers. Different types of childhood cancer have been linked to different environmental factors, but the most danger appears to originate from pesticides, solvents, and radiation.

Numerous research studies have linked pesticide exposure and childhood cancer. Still, many pesticides that have caused cancer in laboratory animals are still in use. Epidemiological studies have linked many forms of childhood cancer to pesticides used in the home and garden, applied at parents' workplaces, and sprayed on pets to control fleas. Children exposed to multiple products are especially vulnerable. Studies have demonstrated increases in childhood leukemia connected to pesticide use within a house and in the garden.