Cancer Myths and Misconception

False myths can cause hypochondriacs and the like to unnecessarily worry about their health.  Incorrect, frightening claims on the internet circulate daily about new products causing cancer. Besides most of the claims being bogus and untrue, many of these accusations cause people to worry about their health, and the health of their families for no reason. Below is a list of common myths about cancer and whether or not there’s any truth to them.

Myth: Deodorant can cause breast cancer.

Fact: Although a few reports have suggested that some deodorant products contain harmful substances such as aluminum compounds and parabens that can be absorbed through the skin, there’s no conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants with breast cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, no clinical studies have yet to link these products with breast cancer.

If someone is still concerned about using deodorants that contain substances such as aluminum compounds and parabens, they can certainly find natural products that do not contain those chemicals.

Myth: Microwaving food in plastic containers releases harmful, cancer causing substances.

Fact: Microwave-safe plastics and wraps do not leak harmful chemicals into food.

However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that plastic containers produced with no intention of being used in a microwave can melt and potentially leak chemicals into food.  Things such as margarine tubs and similar containers should not be put into a microwave to heat up food. It is important to check to see that the container being used in a microwave is labeled microwave-safe.

Myth: People diagnosed with cancer should not eat sugar, since it can cause cancer to grow faster.

Fact: Sugar does not make cancer grow faster. Just like healthy cells, cancer cells depend on blood sugar (glucose) for energy. However, giving more sugar to cancer cells does not speed their growth. Likewise, denying cancer cells sugar will not impede their growth.

This misconception may be due in part to a misunderstanding of positron emission tomography (PET) scans, which use a small amount of radioactive tracer – typically a form of glucose. Since cancer cells use more energy, they absorb a greater amount of this tracer. For this reason, people have concluded that cancer cells grow faster on sugar, but it is simply not true.

Myth: Good people don’t get cancer.

Fact: In the days of old, it was a common belief that illness was a punishment associated with a person who did bad things.  As a matter of fact, some cultures still uphold those beliefs. However there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to prove you can get cancer simply because you deserve it. To test how crazy this theory is, try explaining why a newborn or young child would deserve cancer.

Myth: Cancer is contagious.

Fact: Unlike a cold, a person cannot catch cancer from someone who has it.

That being said, there is no need to avoid someone who has cancer. In fact, a loved one touching, and spending more time with someone who has cancer could be more beneficial than not.

Although cancer itself is not contagious, some viruses, which are contagious have been known to cause cancer.  Examples of these viruses are:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): a sexually transmitted disease – that can cause cervical cancer among other forms of cancer.
  • Hepatitis C: a virus transmitted through sexual intercourse, or contracted through infected intravenous (IV) needles. Hepatitis C can cause liver cancer.

One should talk to a doctor about ways to protect themselves from these viruses.

Myth: Grilled meats can cause cancer

Fact: A likelihood exists that grilled or pan-cooked meat can possibly increase a person’s risk of developing certain types of cancer.

When meat is grilled a harmful chemical called heterocyclicamines are created. Research suggests that since a greater quantity of this chemical is found in meats cooked well done or burnt, to either limit the amount of time the meat is spent on the grill, and or just cut off the burnt pieces altogether.  They also recommend marinating and precooking meats in a microwave safe container prior to cooking meat elsewhere. Keep in mind grilling foods such as fruits and veggies are safe and healthy.

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