Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How can such chemical substances give us cancer ?

  1. May 16, 2004 #1
    can you tell me how can such chemical substances give us cancer ? What do they do in actuality ?

  2. jcsd
  3. May 17, 2004 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Radioactive materials give you cancer by literally breaking your dna/rna. Radiation strong enough to do this is called "ionizing radiation." UV, X-Rays, and Gamma rays (electromagnetic radiation - like light) are ionizing, as are particle radiation (alpha, beta, gamma particles).
  4. May 18, 2004 #3
    Thanks for your reply,
    Cells have a lot of functions and spend many phases to 'create' or be created new ones and 'kill' themselves....So, when their DNAs/RNAs get damaged, there is no inheritance anymore but they can still create and this time in an uncontrollable way...
    Is my assumption correct ?
    If so, can you please tell me why they are uncontrollable ?
    Secondly, do you know which ionizing materials are all around us ?

    I made such questions to learn more about this, I know some cancer patients, some are old, some are really young, no-way-for-a-rescue disease, right ? This is just a curiosity of mine-way of broadening my mind a little bit...

    Thanks a lot,
  5. May 18, 2004 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Most cells damaged by radiation simply die. A few are mangled in such a way that they continue to live, but now have damaged genetic material. Sometimes the damaged genetic material permits the cell to get around at least one of the mechanisms that control growth -- that's a cancerous cell.

    - Warren
  6. May 19, 2004 #5
    Thanks Warren,

  7. Jul 13, 2004 #6
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?