Any person can get cancer in some form or another, because of abnormalities in the cells that make up the human body.
The abnormalities develop in the cells’ genetic material – a person’s oncogenes, the genes that promote cancer being activated and giving the affected cells new characteristics.
When oncogenes are activated, the cells’ tumor suppressor genes are then deactivated.
The genetic material then contains mutations (abnormalities or errors), which results in abnormal cell growth and division, disrespect for normal tissue boundaries and the ability to thrive in tissues different from their origin.
Furthermore, cell death as dictated by a normal cell cycle does not happen. If steps are not taken to correct and prevent the recurrence of these mutations, the cancer cells would eventually dominate and spread throughout the body.
Normally, the human body has built-in safeguards to protect against cancer. However, these are not fool-proof; oftentimes they fail in small ways, usually in environments that promote mutations.
These environments can include such situations as: the presence of carcinogens, periodic injury to the body, or those which the body’s cells were not built to withstand, such as deprivation of enough supply of oxygen or other nutrients.
The destruction of the body’s safeguards slowly allows mutations to develop and multiply until the cell itself acts abnormally.
The abnormal cell then gives rise to more abnormal cells, thus giving way to the cancer’s progression to more critical and invasive stages.
Common carcinogens are tobacco smoke, chemicals, radiation or infectious agents. Tobacco smoke has been linked to many cancers, and is the principal cause in 90% of all lung cancer cases.
Prolonged asbestos exposure has been linked to mesothelioma, or cancer of the internal organs’ protective lining.
Alcohol, a chemical linked to liver and esophageal cancer, can promote rapid cell growth and division, leaving less time for the body’s safeguards to kick in and increasing the probability of a mutation to occur.
Radiation exposure commonly linked to cancer is from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which can cause skin cancer. Radon gas and other sources of ionizing radiation can also cause cancer; radon gas, which is a by-product of normal uranium decay, has been also linked to lung cancer.
Little is yet known about whether radiation emitted from cellular phones and other wireless electronic devices can cause cancer.
Viruses and other pathogens can also cause cancer. The viruses most linked to human cancers are: human papillomavirus (HPV) linked to cervical and vaginal cancer; hepatitis B and C viruses linked to liver cancer; Epstein-Barr linked to cancer of the throat; and the human T-lymphotropic virus linked to leukemia.
Impairment of the immune system due to viral infections such as HIV and AIDS also renders a person susceptible to cancers caused by viruses.