National Cancer Institute
Science Behind the News Understanding Cancer
Causes of cancer

What Causes Cancer?

Cancer is often perceived as a disease that strikes for no apparent reason. This is because scientists don't know all the reasons. But many of the causes of cancer have already been identified. Besides heredity, scientific studies point to the existence of three main categories of factors that contribute to the development of cancer: chemicals (e.g., from smoking or diet), radiation, and viruses or bacteria.

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