The World Health Organization’s List of Possible Carcinogens and What You Need to Know.
The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains a roster of potential cancer-causing agents, grouping them to indicate the level of certainty about their risks. Here’s what you should understand about this classification.
Group 1: Known Carcinogens – These are substances like alcohol and radiation that are confirmed to cause cancer.
Group 2A: Probable Carcinogens – Substances like red meat and exposure to air pollution fall into this category, with strong indications of a cancer link.
Group 2B: Possible Carcinogens – This group includes items that might cause cancer, pending further research. Not all pose the same level of risk.
Group 3: Insufficient Evidence – Some items lack adequate data to determine cancer causing potential. Substances in this category include hair dye, breast implants, and varieties of anaesthetic.
For an item to enter Group 2B, there must be limited evidence of cancer risk in humans and strong evidence from animal studies. Mechanisms causing cancer in animals should also apply to humans.
One notable example within the Group 2B classification is aloe vera. Research involving rats has highlighted a concerning link between aloe vera extract and an elevated likelihood of colon cancer. This connection is attributed to specific compounds present in aloe vera that possess the capability to damage DNA, underscoring a potential risk for humans.
Furthermore, the classification encompasses emissions from electronic devices, particularly radiofrequency magnetic fields emitted by devices like mobile phones. Although conclusive evidence remains elusive, the presence of these emissions on the list warrants a sense of caution.
Scheduled for inclusion in Group 2B this July, the artificial sweetener aspartame is currently under scrutiny. Found in around 6,000 food items globally, its new classification sparks controversy. Industry associations argue it’s misleading and could lead to legal disputes.
While substances in Group 2B carry possible risks, the World Health Organisation doesn’t provide exact exposure limits. People should follow safety guidelines. For example, the permissible recommended intake for aspartame is up to 50 mg per kg of body weight daily.
The classification aids in understanding potential cancer risks, but not all substances pose the same danger. By categorising items based on evidence, the World Health Organisation aims to guide public awareness and safety precautions.