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Known and Probable Human Carcinogens

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Whether you or someone you love has cancer, knowing what to expect can help you cope. From basic information about cancer and its causes to in-depth information on specific cancer types including risk factors, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment options youll find it here.

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General Information About Carcinogens

Determining if Something Is a Carcinogen

Known and Probable Human Carcinogens

How to Interpret News About Cancer Causes

Cancer Warning Labels Based on Californias Proposition 65

General Information About Carcinogens

Known and Probable Human Carcinogens

In general, the American Cancer Society does not determine if something causes cancer (that is, if it is acarcinogen).Instead, we rely on the determinations of other respected agencies, such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the US National Toxicology Program (NTP).

The lists below are from IARC and NTP, and more information on each of these known and probable human carcinogens can be found on their websites.

To learn more about these agencies and how they study and classify cancer causes, seeDetermining if Something Is a Carcinogen.

The IARC and NTP act independently. Many known or suspected carcinogens appear on both organizations lists; however,

if a substance or exposure is only on one agencys list, this it does not necessarily mean there is a controversy

, as one agency may not have evaluated it.

many of the substances and exposures here can go by different names.

This can make it hard to find a particular substance on one or both of these lists.

These lists include only those agents that have been evaluated by the agencies.

These agencies tend to focus on substances and exposures most likely to cause cancer, but there are many others that have not been fully studied yet.

These lists include agents that have been classified as

include substances that have been classified as

carcinogens, for which the evidence is not as strong.

These lists also do not include substances evaluated as not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity in humans.

Most of the agents on the lists have been linked only with certain kinds of cancer, not all cancer types.

See each agencys website for more details about the substances and exposures on their lists.

that something can cause cancer, not how likely it is that something will cause cancer in any person (or how much it might raise your risk)

. For example, IARC considers there to be strong evidence that both tobacco smoking and eating processed meat can cause cancer, so both are listed as carcinogenic to humans. But smoking is much more likely to cause cancer than eating processed meat, even though both are in the same category.

Carcinogens do not cause cancer at all times, under all circumstances.

In other words, a carcinogen does not always cause cancer in every person, every time there is any kind of exposure. Some may only be carcinogenic if a person is exposed in a certain way (for example, swallowing it as opposed to touching it). Some may only cause cancer in people who have a certain genetic makeup. Some of these agents may lead to cancer after only a very small exposure, while others might require intense exposure over many years. Again, refer to the agencies reports for specifics.

Even if a substance or exposure is known or suspected to cause cancer, this does not necessarily mean that it can or should be avoided at all costs.

For example, sunlight is a major source of ultraviolet (UV) rays, which are a known cause of skin cancer, but its not practical (or advisable) to completely avoid the sun. (SeeHow to Interpret News About Cancer Causesfor more about this.)

These lists also include many commonly used medicines, particularly some hormones and drugs used to treat cancer.

For example, tamoxifen increases the risk of certain kinds of uterine cancer, but it can be very useful in treating some breast cancers, which may be more important for some women. If you have questions about a medicine that appears on one of these lists, be sure to ask your doctor.

International Agency for Research on Cancer

Learn more about the topics in this list in the IARC monographs at.

Acetaldehyde (from consuming alcoholic beverages)

Acheson process, occupational exposure associated with

Aristolochic acid (and plants containing it)

Arsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds

Asbestos (all forms) and mineral substances (such as talc or vermiculite) that contain asbestos

Benzidine and dyes metabolized to benzidine

Betel quid, with or without tobacco

Bis(chloromethyl)ether and chloromethyl methyl ether (technical-grade)

(infection with), also known as the Chinese liver fluke

Coal, indoor emissions from household combustion

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) (infection with)

Estrogen-progestogen menopausal therapy (combined)

Estrogen-progestogen oral contraceptives (combined) (Note: There is also convincing evidence in humans that these agents confer a protective effect against cancer in the endometrium and ovary)

Etoposide in combination with cisplatin and bleomycin

Fission products, including strontium-90

Hepatitis B virus (chronic infection with)

Hepatitis C virus (chronic infection with)

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) (infection with)

Human papilloma virus (HPV) types 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59 (infection with) (Note: The HPV types that have been classified as carcinogenic to humans can differ by an order of magnitude in risk for cervical cancer)

Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-1) (infection with)

Iron and steel founding (workplace exposure)

Isopropyl alcohol manufacture using strong acids

Kaposi sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV), also known as human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) (infection with)

Methoxsalen (8-methoxypsoralen) plus ultraviolet A radiation, also known as PUVA

4,4-Methylenebis(chloroaniline) (MOCA)

Mineral oils, untreated or mildly treated

MOPP and other combined chemotherapy including alkylating agents

N-Nitrosonornicotine (NNN) and 4-(N-Nitrosomethylamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK)

(infection with), also known as the Southeast Asian liver fluke

Outdoor air pollution (and the particulate matter in it)

3,4,5,3,4-Pentachlorobiphenyl (PCB-126)

Phenacetin (and mixtures containing it)

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxin-like, with a Toxicity Equivalency Factor according to WHO (PCBs 77, 81, 105, 114, 118, 123, 126, 156, 157, 167, 169, 189)

Radionuclides, alpha-particle-emitting, internally deposited (Note: Specific radionuclides for which there is sufficient evidence for carcinogenicity to humans are also listed individually as Group 1 agents)

Radionuclides, beta-particle-emitting, internally deposited (Note: Specific radionuclides for which there is sufficient evidence for carcinogenicity to humans are also listed individually as Group 1 agents)

Silica dust, crystalline, in the form of quartz or cristobalite

Soot (as found in workplace exposure of chimney sweeps)

Tamoxifen (Note: There is also conclusive evidence that tamoxifen reduces the risk of contralateral breast cancer in breast cancer patients)

2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin (TCDD); dioxin

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, including UVA, UVB, and UVC rays

Ultraviolet-emitting tanning devices

National Toxicology Program 14th Report on Carcinogens

Learn more about the topics in this list in the NTPsReport on Carcinogensat

Analgesic mixtures containing phenacetin

Arsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds

Bis(chloromethyl) ether and technical-grade chloromethyl methyl ether

1,4-Butanediol dimethylsulfonate (also known as busulfan)

1-(2-Chloroethyl)-3-(4-methylcyclohexyl)-1-nitrosourea (MeCCNU)

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)

Human papilloma viruses (HPVs): some genital-mucosal types

Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1)

Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) (also known as human herpesvirus 8, or HHV-8)

Methoxsalen with ultraviolet A therapy (PUVA)

Mineral oils (untreated and mildly treated)

Silica, crystalline (respirable size)

Strong inorganic acid mists containing sulfuric acid

2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD); dioxin

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, broad spectrum

International Agency for Research on Cancer

Group 2A: Probably carcinogenic to humans

Learn more about the topics in this list in the IARC monographs at.

Art glass, glass containers, and press ware (manufacture of)

Biomass fuel (primarily wood), emissions from household combustion

Bitumens, occupational exposure to oxidized bitumens and their emissions during roofing

Bischloroethyl nitrosourea (BCNU), also known as carmustine

alpha-Chlorinated toluenes (benzal chloride, benzotrichloride, benzyl chloride) and benzoyl chloride (combined exposures)

1-(2-Chloroethyl)-3-cyclohexyl-1-nitrosourea (CCNU)

DDT (4,4-Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane)

Dichloromethane (methylene chloride)

Dieldrin, and aldrin metabolized to dieldrin

Frying, emissions from high-temperature

Hairdresser or barber (workplace exposure as)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) type 68 (infection with)

IQ (2-Amino-3-methylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline)

N-Methyl-N-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG)

Nitrate or nitrite (ingested) under conditions that result in endogenous nitrosation

Non-arsenical insecticides (workplace exposures in spraying and application of)

Petroleum refining (workplace exposures in)

Shiftwork that involves circadian disruption

Tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene)

Very hot beverages (above 65 degrees Celsius)

Vinyl bromide (Note: For practical purposes, vinyl bromide should be considered to act similarly to the human carcinogen vinyl chloride.)

Vinyl fluoride (Note: For practical purposes, vinyl fluoride should be considered to act similarly to the human carcinogen vinyl chloride.)

National Toxicology Program 14th Report on Carcinogens

Reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens

Learn more about the topics in this list in the NTPsReport on Carcinogensat

Adriamycin (doxorubicin hydrochloride)

2-Amino-3,4-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline (MeIQ)

2-Amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (MeIQx)

2-Amino-3-methylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline (IQ)

2-Amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP)

Azacitidine (5-Azacytidine, 5-AzaC)

2, 2-bis-(bromoethyl)-1,3-propanediol (technical grade)

1-(2-chloroethyl)-3-cyclohexyl-1-nitrosourea

p-Chloro-o-toluidine and p-chloro-o-toluidine hydrochloride

Cobalt and cobalt compounds that release cobalt ions

Cobalt-tungsten carbide: powders and hard metals

Danthron (1,8-dihydroxyanthraquinone)

1,2-Dibromoethane (ethylene dibromide)

3,3-Dichlorobenzidine and 3,3-dichlorobenzidine dihydrochloride

Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT)

1,2-Dichloroethane (ethylene dichloride)

Dichloromethane (methylene chloride)

1,3-Dichloropropene (technical grade)

Dyes metabolized to 3,3-dimethoxybenzidine

Dyes metabolized to 3,3-dimethylbenzidine

Lindane, hexachlorocyclohexane (technical grade), and other hexachlorocyclohexane isomers

4,4-Methylenedianiline and its dihydrochloride salt

N-methyl-N-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine

Michlers ketone [4,4-(dimethylamino) benzophenone]

Nitrofen (2,4-dichlorophenyl-p-nitrophenyl ether)

4-(N-nitrosomethylamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone

Pentachlorophenol and by-products of its synthesis

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene)

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Along with the American Cancer Society, other sources of information include:

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

NIOSH Safety and Health Topic Occupational Cancer:

*Inclusion on this list does not imply endorsement by the American Cancer Society.

No matter who you are, we can help. Contact us anytime, day or night, for information and support. Call us at1-or visit

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1123. 2019. Accessed at on March 12, 2019.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).Preamble to the IARC Monographs. 2019. Accessed at on March 12, 2019.

US Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service, National Toxicology Program.Report on Carcinogens, Fourteenth Edition. 2016. Accessed at on March 12, 2019.

Along with the American Cancer Society, other sources of information include:

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

NIOSH Safety and Health Topic Occupational Cancer:

*Inclusion on this list does not imply endorsement by the American Cancer Society.

No matter who you are, we can help. Contact us anytime, day or night, for information and support. Call us at1-or visit

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1123. 2019. Accessed at on March 12, 2019.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).Preamble to the IARC Monographs. 2019. Accessed at on March 12, 2019.

US Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service, National Toxicology Program.Report on Carcinogens, Fourteenth Edition. 2016. Accessed at on March 12, 2019.

American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please see ourContent Usage Policy.

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