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Your Environment. Your Health.


Table of Contents


Cancer Cells

Cancer arises when cells are unable to repair DNA damage and experience abnormal cell growth and division. The process known as Metastasis occurs when cancer cells travel to other parts of the body via the bloodstream and replace normal tissue.

Cancer is among the leading causes of death across the world. In the U.S., cancer is the second leading cause of death, after heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cancer death rates vary by cancer type, sex, racial and ethnic group, age, and urban or rural residence.

But there is some progress against cancer. The CDC reports overall cancer death rates went down 27% from 1999 to 2019. People may reduce their chances of getting cancer by employing prevention methods such as having regular screenings and living a healthy lifestyle.

The following clinical trials are currently recruiting

  • EPR: DNA & Your Environment

NIEHS is committed to understanding the connection between genetics and environmental exposures with regard to cancer. In addition to several Division of Intramural Research (DIR) groups studying the molecular mechanisms behind the disease, NIEHS funds cancer research at other institutions.

Further Reading

Stories from the Environmental Factor (NIEHS newsletter)

Fact Sheets

Cancer and the Environment

Cosmetics and Hair Dye

Additional Resources

  • 15th Report on Carcinogens - The Report on Carcinogens (RoC) is a congressionally mandated, science-based, public health report that identifies agents, substances, mixtures, or exposures (collectively called "substances") in our environment that pose a hazard to people residing in the United States.
  • A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change (Full Report) (4MB) - A Report Outlining the Research Needs on the Human Health Effects of Climate Change.
  • - The National Cancer Institute's portal to information on the types of cancer, treatment options, methods for coping with cancer, support groups, screening and testing and prevention measures.
  • Climate Change and Human Health - The federal government has called for efforts to support adaptation and mitigation of climate change to create healthier, more sustainable communities. The goals of the NIEHS Climate Change and Human Health Program align with these efforts.
  • Clinical Trials Education Series - National Cancer Institute. Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. Understanding what they are can help you decide if a clinical trial might be an option for you. Or maybe you have a friend or family member with cancer and are wondering if a clinical trial is right for them. NCI has provided basic information about clinical trials to help you understand what’s involved in taking part
  • Disease Prevention Toolkit - Taking steps to protect your health is the best way to prevent disease and other conditions. Health screenings, vaccines, and guarding yourself from germs and bugs can help keep you feeling your best.
  • DNA Replication Fidelity: DNA Damage & Repair - The DNA Replication Fidelity Group performs research aimed at understanding the DNA transactions that determine DNA replication fidelity.
  • Epigenetics and Stem Cell Biology Laboratory - The Epigenetics and Stem Cell Biology Laboratory investigates fundamental mechanisms by which epigenetics — non-genetic modulation and alterations — influences chromatin architecture, transcription and gene expression in normal, cancer and embryonic stem cells and provides insights into biological processes that modulate the effects of environmental exposures.
  • Healthy People 2030 - Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.
  • Night Shift Work and Cancer: What Does it Mean for Workers? - Although the specific relationship is not well understood, both the National Toxicology Program and International Agency for Research on Cancer suggest that persistent night shift work that results in circadian disruption may lead to human cancer.
  • Of Mice and Women: Modeling Breast Cancer and the Environment - Scientific Glossary - Scientific Glossary (PDF) Developed by the Bay Area Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Center Community Outreach Translation Core.
  • Talking to Your Doctor - Resources from NIH - Resources from NIH Clear and honest communication between you and your physician can help you both make smart choices about your health. It’s important to be honest and upfront about your symptoms even if you feel embarrassed or shy. Have an open dialogue with your doctor – ask questions to make sure you understand your diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.
  • Tips from Former Smokers Campaign (Tips) - A national campaign to help people quit smoking from the CDC.

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