Common Causes of Cancer

We can’t currently explain why some people develop cancer and others do not. However, with years of research we have identified certain risk factors that could increase your chances of developing cancer. These are the most common risk factors for cancer:

Growing Older

People of all ages (children, teens, those in the middle and the elderly) can develop cancer, but cancer most often occurs in people over the age of 65.


Each year, more than 180,000 Americans die from cancer that is related to tobacco use (using tobacco products or being around tobacco smoke). Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death due to cancer.


Ultraviolet (UV) radiation (an energy found in the light of the sun or tanning booths) can damage your skin which can lead to skin cancer.

Ionizing Radiation

This is radiation from radioactive fallout, radon gas, extended exposure to x-rays and other sources. The radiation damages the cells and leads to cancer.

Certain Chemicals and Other Substances

Studies have shown that exposure to asbestos, benzene, benzidine, cadmium, nickel, or vinyl chloride can cause cancer. These chemicals can be found in some workplaces.

Some Viruses and Bacteria

Being infected with certain viruses or bacteria may increase the risk of developing cancer.

Certain Hormones

Some hormone therapies may increase the risk of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke, or blood clots.


Mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx, liver, and breast cancers have been linked to excessive drinking over long periods of time.

Poor Diet, Lack of Physical Activity, or Being Overweight

Diet and physical activity are important parts of healthy living. Those with poor eating habits and little physical activity have been found to have an increased risk of cancers of the colon, uterus, prostate, breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, and uterus.