90 percent of cancer-causing factors are environmental

Public Health Specialist Dr. Nurten Elkin stated that cancer is the second cause of death in the World as well as in Turkey and said: “Today, 30-50 percent of cancer can be prevented, but this situation is possible by avoiding risk factors and early diagnosis. 90 percent of cancer-causing factors are environmental and 10 percent is genetic.”

90 percent of cancer-causing factors are environmental


Emphasizing that cancer is the second cause of death after cardiovascular diseases among the deaths whose cause is known in the World and in the Turkey, Asst. Prof. Dr. Nurten Elkin from Istanbul Gelisim University Faculty of Health Sciences said: “The leading factors causing cancer are environmental factors at the rate of 90% and genetic factors at the rate of 10%. When we look at environmental factors, alcohol, tobacco use, infections, unhealthy diet and obesity are preventable causes.”

Reminding that cancer is a common name given to many diseases due to its common features, Dr. Elkin listed the symptoms of cancer as follows:

“Handling of a painless, growing mass in the breast, palpable swelling under the skin in areas such as armpits, neck, groin, weight loss or gain for no known reason, loss of appetite and fatigue, non-healing wounds, long-term hoarseness or cough, the formation of a new nevus in the body or changes in the existing moles, changes in bowel habits such as diarrhea and constipation, difficult or painful urination, indigestion after eating, difficulty in swallowing, abdominal pain, unexplained night sweats, bloody urine, irregular menstrual bleeding, bleeding from the nose and gums, blood in the stool, bleeding under the skin and easy bruises.”


Stating that the cause of the symptoms may not be due to cancer most of the time, the health institution should be consulted if the symptoms last longer than a few weeks, Dr. Nurten Elkin said:  “Many cancers are likely to cure if diagnosed early and treated appropriately. It is important for the community to know that at least one third of deaths from cancer can be prevented by not using tobacco products, ensuring adequate and balanced nutrition, increasing physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding alcohol. In addition, prevention of air pollution, avoiding exposure to sunlight especially between 10:00 and 16:00 and taking protective measures, protection from infectious agents such as cancer-causing HPV and Hepatitis B, and occupational and environmental exposure to carcinogens are also important in protection from cancer.”

Drawing attention to the need to increase the knowledge of the society with early diagnosis programs in cancer, Dr. Elkin said: “Early admission to the health institution when individuals encounter symptoms will create very positive results in diagnosis and treatment. Screening programs are carried out for breast, colon and cervical cancers in our country. Community based cancer screening programs are carried out in Cancer Early Diagnosis Screening and Training Centers (KETEM), Community Health Centers (TSM), Healthy Life Centers (SHM) and Family Health Centers (ASM). In our country, screening services are provided free of charge against breast, colon (colorectal) and cervical cancers.”


Edited date: 05.04.2021
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