Besides our current health concerns due to COVID-19, cancer is a longer-lasting and even more dramatic pandemic that affects almost a third of the human population worldwide. Most of the emphasis on its causes has been posed on genetic predisposition, chance, and wrong lifestyles (mainly, obesity and smoking). Moreover, our medical weapons against cancers have not improved too much during the last century, although research is in progress. Once diagnosed with a malignant tumour, we still rely on surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. The main problem is that we have focused on fighting a difficult battle instead of preventing it by controlling its triggers. Quite the opposite, our knowledge of the links between environmental pollution and cancer has surged from the 1980s. Carcinogens in water, air, and soil have continued to accumulate disproportionally and grow in number and dose, bringing us to today’s carnage. Here, a synthesis and critical review of the state of the knowledge of the links between cancer and environmental pollution in the three environmental compartments is provided, research gaps are briefly discussed, and some future directions are indicated. New evidence suggests that it is relevant to take into account not only the dose but also the time when we are exposed to carcinogens. The review ends by stressing that more dedication should be put into studying the environmental causes of cancers to prevent and avoid curing them, that the precautionary approach towards environmental pollutants must be much more reactionary, and that there is an urgent need to leave behind the outdated petrochemical-based industry and goods production.
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