28/10/2015 09:00 GMT

Cancer Causes: List Of 118 Carcinogens That Increase Risk Including Alcohol, Tobacco And Salted Fish

Earlier this week, the World Health Organisation published a report warning that processed meats such as bacon and sausages increase a person's risk of cancer, because they are classed as carcinogenic. The report also said that red meat, such as beef, could cause cancer.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), there are plenty of other chemicals, complex mixtures, occupational exposures, physical agents, biological agents and lifestyle factors that can also cause cancer in humans.

These include drinking alcohol, using sun beds, eating Chinese-style salted fish and smoking tobacco, which have all been classified as Group 1 (carcinogenic).


Scientists from the IARC have compiled the list by reviewing published studies and evaluating the weight of evidence that an agent can increase the risk of cancer.

Since 1971, more than 900 agents have been evaluated, of which more than 400 have been identified as carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic, or possibly carcinogenic to humans.

Below is a list of 118 substances that have been identified as carcinogenic:

  • Cyclophosphamide

  • Benzo[a]pyrene

  • Thiotepa

  • Busulfan

  • Diethylstilbestrol

  • Lindane

  • Phenacetin

  • Ethanol in alcoholic beverages

  • Benzene

  • Vinyl chloride

  • Acetaldehyde associated with consumption of alcoholic beverages

  • Ethylene oxide

  • 1,2-Dichloropropane

  • Trichloroethylene

  • 2-Naphthylamine

  • 4-Aminobiphenyl

  • Benzidine

  • ortho-Toluidine

  • 4,4'-Methylenebis(2-chloroaniline) (MOCA)

  • 1,3-Butadiene

  • Melphalan

  • Methoxsalen (8-methoxypsoralen) plus ultraviolet A radiation

  • Treosulfan

  • Chlorambucil

  • Aristolochic acid

  • Plants containing aristolochic acid

  • Azathioprine

  • Chlornaphazine

  • Sulfur mustard

  • Bis(chloromethyl)ether; chloromethyl methyl ether (technical-grade)

  • Asbestos (all forms, including actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, chrysotile, crocidolite, tremolite)

  • Polychlorinated biphenyls

  • Aflatoxins

  • 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin

  • Plutonium

  • Thorium-232 and its decay products

  • Arsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds

  • Beryllium and beryllium compounds

  • Cadmium and cadmium compounds

  • Coal-tar distillation

  • Radon-222 and its decay products

  • Tamoxifen

  • Radium-224 and its decay products

  • Semustine [1-(2-Chloroethyl)-3-(4-methylcyclohexyl)-1-nitrosourea, Methyl-CCNU]

  • Radium-226 and its decay products

  • Phosphorus-32, as phosphate

  • Silica dust, crystalline, in the form of quartz or cristobalite

  • Radium-228 and its decay products

  • N'-Nitrosonornicotine (NNN) and 4-(N-Nitrosomethylamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK)

  • Chromium (VI) compounds

  • Etoposide

  • Etoposide in combination with cisplatin and bleomycin

  • 2,3,4,7,8-Pentachlorodibenzofuran

  • 3,4,5,3’,4’-Pentachlorobiphenyl (PCB-126)

  • Cyclosporine

  • Coal-tar pitch

  • Erionite

  • Shale oils

  • Occupational exposure associated with Acheson process

  • Acid mists

  • Alcoholic beverages

  • Aluminium production

  • Areca nut

  • Auramine production

  • Dyes metabolised to benzidine

  • Betel quid with tobacco

  • Betel quid without tobacco

  • Infection with clonorchis sinensis

  • Coal gasification

  • Indoor emissions from household combustion of coal

  • Coke production

  • Engine exhaust, diesel

  • Epstein-Barr virus

  • Oestrogen therapy, postmenopausal

  • Oestrogen-progestogen menopausal therapy (combined)

  • Oestrogen-progestogen oral contraceptives (combined)

  • Fission products, including strontium-90

  • Fluoro-edenite fibrous amphibole

  • Haematite mining (underground)

  • Infection with helicobacter pylori

  • Chronic infection with Hepatitis B virus

  • Chronic infection with Hepatitis C virus

  • Infection with Human immunodeficiency virus type 1

  • Human papillomavirus types 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59

  • Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I

  • Ionizing radiation (all types)

  • Iron and steel founding (occupational exposure during)

  • Isopropyl alcohol manufacture using strong acids

  • Kaposi sarcoma herpesvirus

  • Leather dust

  • Magenta production

  • Mineral oils, untreated or mildly treated

  • MOPP and other combined chemotherapy including alkylating agents

  • Neutron radiation

  • Nickel compounds

  • Infection with opisthorchis viverrini

  • Outdoor air pollution

  • Particulate matter in outdoor air pollution

  • Occupational exposure as a painter

  • Analgesic mixtures containing phenacetin

  • Polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxin-like, with a Toxicity Equivalency Factor (TEF) according to WHO (PCBs 77, 81, 105, 114, 118, 123, 126, 156, 157, 167, 169, 189)

  • Consumption of processed meat

  • Radioiodines, including iodine-131

  • Radionuclides, alpha-particle-emitting, internally deposited

  • Radionuclides, beta-particle-emitting, internally deposited

  • Rubber manufacturing industry

  • Chinese-style salted fish

  • Schistosoma haematobium (infection with)

  • Solar radiation

  • Soot (as found in occupational exposure of chimney sweeps)

  • Second-hand tobacco smoke

  • Tobacco smoking

  • Tobacco, smokeless

  • Ultraviolet radiation (wavelengths 100-400 nm, encompassing UVA, UVB, and UVC)

  • Sun beds and ultraviolet-emitting tanning devices

  • Wood dust

  • X- and Gamma-Radiation


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[H/T The Guardian]