8 Myths About Cancer

What causes cancer and what is just a myth? These days it can be difficult to tell the difference as nearly everything, from cell phones to foods, has someone telling you it causes extreme side effects like cancer. So how do you distinguish the difference?

We have taken 8 of the top asked questions to help debunk popular cancer myths.  

Do artificial sweeteners cause cancer?

Artificial sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes, are alternative options for eating sugar (sucrose). Artificial sweeteners are typically sweeter than table sugar and much smaller amounts are needed to create the same level of sweetness. These include saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low®, Sweet Twin®, NectaSweet®); cyclamate; aspartame (Equal®, NutraSweet®); acesulfame potassium (Sunett®, Sweet One®); sucralose (Splenda®); and neotame. 

When studies first began they were tested on rats and found to cause bladder cancer. However, after extensive studies by the FDA, the cause of this cancer was due to a mechanism not relevant to humans. Since then, they have been approved for use having no evidence linking to cancer in humans. For more information visit the National Cancer Institute’s Artificial Sweeteners and Cancer Fact Sheet. 

Is cancer contagious?

The simple answer is no, cancer is not contagious. 

There are some germs that can play a role in the development of certain types of cancers. Viruses such as HPV and HIV are transmitted from person to person and weaken the immune system. This results in it being easier for cancerous cells to form, but the infections alone usually do not lead to cancer. Risk factors such as a weakened immune system, other infections, behavior habits (such as smoking), and health problems can allow cancer to develop more readily.

Additionally, a person who has received an organ or tissue transplant can be at an increased risk of developing a transplant-related cancer. For this reason, doctors avoid using organs from a person who has a history of cancer. The chances of this happening are low and typically occurs in about 2 cases per 10,000. 

To read more click here

Can cancer surgery or tumor biopsy cause cancer to spread?

Cancer is such a serious and possibly deadly disease due to its ability to spread in the body. Cancer cells can spread locally by moving into nearby normal tissue. Cancer can also spread regionally, to nearby lymph nodes, tissues, or organs and to distant parts of the body. When this happens, it is called metastatic cancer. 

However, when having surgery or biopsy doctors use special methods and take precarious steps to prevent cancerous cells from spreading keeping these chances extremely low. Additionally, when they remove tissue from more than one area of the body they will use a different surgical tool for each area to reduce contamination. 

For information about how cancer spreads Metastatic Cancer.

Do cellphones cause cancer?

According to scientific evidence cell phones do not cause cancer.

Cell phones work by sending signals to nearby cell towers using RF (radiofrequency) waves. Due to admitting some radiation, the myth formed that they could cause cancer. However, RF waves are a form of non-ionizing radiation and their strength falls somewhere between FM radio waves and microwaves. 

They do not have enough energy to cause cancer by directly damaging the DNA inside cells like stronger types of radiation such as x-rays, gamma rays, and ultraviolet (UV) light, which can break the chemical bonds in DNA.

For more information on the risk of cancer from cell phones click here

If I have a family history of cancer, I will get it too. 

Members of the same family who suffer from cancer are usually due to them sharing common behaviors rather than sharing genes. Unhealthy behaviors that can increase risk are smoking, eating habits, and lack of exercise. By creating healthier habits it can decrease their risk of cancer developing.

In cases where it is “inherited”, it can be caused by an abnormal gene that is passed down through generations. In these cases, it is not the cancer that is passed down, but the abnormal gene that could lead to cancer.

For more information visit The American Cancer Society page. 

Is cancer a death sentence?

Not necessarily. Since the 1990’s the chances of dying from cancer has steadily decreased as we have learned more about the disease and cancer treatment. The five-year survival rate for some cancers, such as breast cancer, prostate, and thyroid cancers are now 90 percent or better and the 5-year survival rate for all cancers combined is currently about 67 percent. With continued clinical trials for treating cancer, this percentage is expected to continue rising. 

Please note that these rates are based on data from large numbers of people. A single person’s chances can vary depending on many factors including the type of cancer, how much it has spread, and the person’s habits. 

For more information, see the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer.

Does hair dye cause cancer?

There is no conclusive evidence that hair dye use increases the risk of cancer. After extensive studies performed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and The National Toxicology Program (NTP) it was found that hairdressers and barbers who are regularly exposed to large quantities of hair dye and other chemical products may have an increased risk of bladder cancer, however, this can also be caused by behavior habits.  

For more information, read the American Cancer Society’s article on Hair Dyes.

Do power lines cause cancer?

Power lines emit a low electric and magnetic energy which has helped contribute to this common myth. The electric energy emitted by power lines is easily shielded or weakened by walls and other objects. The magnetic energy emitted, much like cell phones, is a low-frequency form of radiation that does not damage genes. 

People who are concerned about ELF radiation (Extremely low frequency) exposure from high-power electrical lines should keep in mind that the intensity of any exposure goes down significantly as you get farther away from the source. As you get farther away, you are exposed to less and less, with the level eventually matching normal home background levels. The electromagnetic field directly under a power line is typically in the range of what you could be exposed to when using certain household appliances.

For more information, see The American Cancer Society fact sheet.

Screening can prevent some types of cancer from occurring or detect them during early stages to prevent spreading or progression. 

If you are concerned about cancer Advanced Body Scan can offer you preventive scanning to help detect the disease. We encourage you to stay proactive in all areas of your health and consult with your health provider about any of your concerns. Preventive screening can help give you the knowledge to continue living a healthy life. Call today to schedule your preventive scan and gain knowledge about your health.