So many new potential things that can cause cancer pop up all the time, making it hard to know what to believe and what to brush off. However, seeing as the National Cancer Institute predicts the number of new cases of cancer per year to rise to 23.6 million by 2030, it’s more important than ever to be aware of the things you’re doing every day that might be putting you at risk—especially when your health and wellbeing are essential right now. From how you prepare your steaks to where you put your phone when you sleep, these are the cancer risk factors you probably didn’t know about.
1. Not managing your stress
According to the National Cancer Institute, while stress doesn’t directly lead to cancer, your body’s response to that stress—via things like increased blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and elevated blood sugar levels—can inevitably lead to cancer if left untreated. In recent years, links have also been discovered between psychological stress and cancer, seeing as people under duress may develop certain bad behaviors like “smoking, overeating, or drinking alcohol.”
2. Skipping out on flossing
Are you keeping up with your oral hygiene? Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash are all essential to staying healthy. In fact, a 2018 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that gum disease is associated with a 24 percent increase in both lung and colorectal cancer, meaning you need to start taking care of your mouth ASAP.
3. Sitting too much
In a 2014 review published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, German scientists analyzed data from 43 studies and found that for every two additional hours of sedentary behavior a day, a person’s risk of colon cancer, endometrial cancer, and lung cancer increased by 8 percent, 10 percent, and 6 percent respectively.
4. Sleeping with the TV on
Even if the sound of your favorite late-night show is the only way you can fall asleep, you might want to bid adieu to this bad habit. A 2010 analysis in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that the artificial light that emanates from your TV screen is linked to both breast and prostate cancer.
“Light at night is likely to be one of a number of factors that contributed to the increase in breast cancer over the last few decades,” Les Reinlib, program director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said in the study.
5. Using scented candles
There’s something so soothing about scented candles. But though they relax you almost immediately in the moment, they can also do a whole lot of damage down the road. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), scented candles are full of potentially dangerous chemicals like benzene and toluene, and breathing them in regularly could increase your risk of cancer.
“For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer,” South Carolina State University chemistry professor Ruhullah Massoudi told HuffPost.