I recently have purchased a home that was built in the late 80s. To my knowledge it has had two owners who have each lived there around 12-15 years each. While talking to the neighbors after moving in, I have now learned that both of the previous owners had a spouse die of cancer while living in the home.

Is this something I should be worried about? Is there anything I can do to ensure my families safety (specific inspections, remove specific materials, etc.)?

Thank you in advance for your help, I am quite worried about this.

  • According to cancer.org, 2 in 4 people die due to cancer. As almost all accidents and diseases are not lethal anymore, you are more and more likely to die because of cancer. Therefore, you shouldn't worry about it. If you are still nervous, the WHO has a list of substances that are known for increasing cancer risks.
    – Narusan
    Jun 22 '17 at 16:18
  • @Narusan Thanks for the info - I looked at your link and it says 22.62% (the highest which is for men, women are sub 20%) of people in the United States have a risk of dying from cancer, so closer to 1 in 5 I would say. So statistically speaking that seems to back up that it is odd that of the previous 4 owners (2 married couples), 50% of them died of cancer and specifically at this one house.
    – IfTrue
    Jun 22 '17 at 16:29
  • As Mark's answer points out, there's absolutely nothing unusual about that. People die of cancer all the time, so having two die in one home over the course of 25-30 years isn't surprising at all. Did you have the home professionally inspected before purchase? If so, that's one of the things you paid for. Home inspectors look for things such as lead paint, asbestos, etc. Did you have it tested for radon? If not, go buy a radon test kit and do it yourself.
    – Carey Gregory
    Jun 23 '17 at 0:46
  • While it could be a coincidence you might want to get your home tested for radon as Carey says. If either of their cancers were due to chemicals in the house possibly it was something that off gassed way back when and may not be a problem now. Or they could have been really into spraying pesticides or herbicides, didn't eat healthy foods or just bad luck. You could also ask an inspector if there is anything else to look out for.
    – padma
    Jun 29 '17 at 3:35

Currently, about 20% of people die of cancer. As our ability to cure things that aren't cancer gets better, that number will only go up.

If you compute the probabilities, it turns out that for ever five houses where the previous four occupants died while living there, one of those houses will have had two or more occupants die of cancer (exact odds: 18.08%). In short, what you've encountered is only slightly more unusual than flipping a coin twice and having it come up "tails" both times.


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