At Home

In this section you'll find information on some of the possible cancer-causing substances in and around the home, including radon, lead, and arsenic. You can also find information on consumer products such as cosmetics, hair dyes, and cell phones.

Radon

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas. Long-term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer.

Asbestos

Asbestos is a group of minerals that occur naturally as bundles of fibers. Evidence from studies in both people and laboratory animals has shown that asbestos can increase the risk for some types of cancer.

Hair Dyes

Many American women, as well as a small but increasing number of men, use hair dyes. You may have heard rumors about a link between using hair dye and getting cancer. Many studies have looked at hair dyes as a possible risk factor for various types of cancer. Here we will discuss what the research shows so that you can make choices that are comfortable for you.

Smart Meters

Smart meters measure the use of natural gas, water, or electricity in your home, and report that usage back to the supplier. Concerns have been raised about the safety of smart meters, mainly because they give off the same kinds of radiofrequency (RF) waves as cell phones and Wi-Fi devices.

Cellular Phone Towers

Some people have expressed concern that living, working, or going to school near a cell phone tower might increase the risk of cancer or other health problems.

Antiperspirants and Breast Cancer Risk

For a while now, an email rumor has suggested that underarm antiperspirants can cause breast cancer. There are no strong epidemiologic studies in the medical literature that link breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, and very little scientific evidence to support this claim.

Acrylamide

Acrylamide is a chemical used mainly in certain industrial processes, such as in producing paper, dyes, and plastics, and in treating drinking water and wastewater. It is not yet clear if acrylamide has an effect on cancer risk in people.

Teflon and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)

Teflon® is a brand name for a man-made chemical known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). It has been in commercial use since the 1940s. Teflon itself is not suspected to cause cancer. PFOA may be more of a health concern because it can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time.

Talcum Powder and Cancer

Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral composed mainly of the elements magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. When talking about whether or not talcum powder is linked to cancer, it is important to distinguish between talc that contains asbestos and talc that is asbestos-free.

Water Fluoridation and Cancer Risk

More than 60 years after fluoride was first added to drinking water in some parts of the United States, there is still controversy about the possible health effects of drinking water fluoridation.

Cosmetics

Ingredients used to make consumer products (including cosmetics) have come under increased scrutiny for their possible effects on human health and on the environment.

Lead

Lead is a naturally occurring bluish-gray metal found in small amounts in the earth's crust. Overall, it has been hard to evaluate lead's ability to cause cancer, in part because it is found in so many places and in many different forms.

Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone

Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is a synthetic (man-made) hormone that is marketed to dairy farmers to increase milk production in cows. The available evidence shows that the use of rBGH can cause adverse health effects in cows. The evidence for potential harm to humans is inconclusive.

Cellular Phones

Based on the large and still growing number of cell phone users (both adults and children), and the fact that cell phones give off radio-frequency (RF) waves, some concerns have been raised about the safety of cell phone use. With respect to cancer, concern focuses on whether cell phones might increase the risk of brain tumors or other tumors in the head and neck area.

Aspartame

Aspartame is one of the most common artificial sweeteners in use today. It is sold under the brand names NutraSweet® and Equal®. Aside from the possible effects in people with phenylketonuria, there are no health problems that have been consistently linked to aspartame use. Research on artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, continues today.

Alcohol Use and Cancer

Most people know that heavy alcohol use can cause health problems. But many people may not be aware that alcohol use can increase their cancer risk. Find out more about the link between alcohol and cancer here.