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NH Environmental Public Health Tracking Program

Cancer is a group of diseases in which abnormal cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is not just one disease but many different diseases. Cancer is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States, second only to heart disease as the leading cause of death.

Cancer and the Environment

Cancer is a disease with many risk factors; those factors can affect the illness in ways that are not fully understood. Most cancers take a long time to develop. Studies have documented that it may take as long as 40 years for some cancers to develop after exposure to some substances, depending on the type of cancer. Through surveillance and tracking, scientists have shown trends in cancer that sometimes correlate with the presence of certain environmental pollutants. This correlation does not rule out other causes but does suggest that environmental factors may increase the risk for particular cancers.

Exposure and Risk

Major risk factors for cancer include tobacco use, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and sun exposure. Genetic factors also appear to play a role in some types of cancer. However, the cause or origin of many cancer types is unknown and is likely determined by the combined effects of multiple factors.

Although environmental pollution has been a source of great public concern for decades, few community-level environmental exposures have been well studied. The cancer risks associated with many environmental chemicals have been identified through studies of workers who have had higher occupational exposures to these chemicals than the general public. The evidence is building to support a link between cancer and exposures to certain environmental pollutants.

Reduce Your Risk

Some environmental exposure is potentially avoidable. For example, some risk factors, such as smoking, are alterable. Other factors, such as a person's age, race, or genetics are predetermined. Having a risk factor does not mean that cancer will develop and many people who get the disease may not have had any known risk factors. Making lifestyle choices and taking precautions at home and in the workplace to reduce potentially harmful exposures can help prevent cancer. To reduce risks, people are advised to:

Cancer Data

The EPHT Program tracks the following types of cancer:

For more information about cancer data for environmental public health tracking.

For more information about cancer visit:

CDC Links

Other Links

Cancer Surveillance Programs

Environmental Public Health Tracking Program
NH Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services
29 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301
Tel: (603) 271-4988 800-852-3345 ext.4988

copyright 2009. State of New Hampshire