Limit Exposure to Other Risk Factors
There are numerous additional cancer risk factors, including
reproductive factors, occupational cancer-causing agents,
and environmental pollutants ( 84) (see Figure 8, p. 34).
Given that it can be difficult for people to avoid or reduce
their exposure to many of these factors, it is imperative that
policies are put in place to ensure that everyone lives in a
safe and healthy environment.
In the United States, some policies that help prevent
cancer have been in place for several decades. For example,
there are numerous policies to help prevent exposure to
asbestos, which can cause mesothelioma, an aggressive
type of cancer for which there remain few treatment
options ( 85). For other known environmental cancer risk
factors, for example, radon gas released from rocks, soil,
and building materials, there are existing guidelines for
reducing exposure, but compliance with these guidelines
is not mandatory. For others, for example, exposure to
occupational cancer-causing agents and environmental
pollutants, there is a clear need to develop and implement
more effective policies.
One environmental pollutant that was recently classified
by the International Agency for Research on Cancer
(IARC), an affiliate of the World Health Organization,
as “carcinogenic to humans,” alongside agents such as
plutonium and cigarettes, is outdoor air pollution ( 87).
Outdoor air pollution is a complex cancer-risk factor
because it is a mixture of pollutants, some of which are
currently classified as carcinogenic to humans by IARC, that
vary over space and time as a result of differences in climate
and sources. However, we know the sources of much
outdoor air pollution—emissions from motor vehicles,
industrial processes, power generation, and the burning of
solid fuels for domestic heating and cooking—and it is clear
that new policy efforts to reduce the release of pollutants
into the atmosphere are sorely needed if we are to reduce
the global burden of cancer.