Cell phones cause cancer. Quick, turn off your cell phone! Throw it at your nearest enemy! Blow it up to smithereens! Just do anything and keep cancer out of coverage area.
On second thought, scrap that. Don’t let myths fool you. Do a reality check and find out just how much you know—or don’t know—about cancer.
True or False
1. Cancer-death risk rates continue to worsen.
2. Regular consumption of charcoal-grilled meat is a fun, cancer-free diet.
3. A sunscreen application a day keeps skin cancer away.
4. Bug sprays can bug you with cancer.
5. Surgery causes cancer to spread throughout the body.
6. Pollution causes lung cancer more than chain-smoking
7. Injuries send you on the road to cancer.
8. Use of electronic devices like cell phones can cause cancer.
9. Your lifestyle in your 20s doesn’t affect your risk later in life.
10. A positive attitude saves you from cancer.
11. Thanks to advancements in diagnosis and treatment, there’s now a cure for cancer.
12. A cure for cancer already exists, but the medical industry profits by withholding the information.
13. Regular checkups and modern technology are a surefire way to detect the Big C.
14. Cancer makes you useless and inactive.
15. Cancer equals pain.
16. Sugar makes cancer cells grow faster.
17. A needle biopsy causes cancer cells to metastasize or spread.
18. The same kind of cancer always gets the same treatment.
19. “I’m a good person. Cancer will never get me.”
20. Cancer is contagious.
21. The bigger the breast size, the more prone to breast cancer.
22. Underwire bras contribute to the development of breast cancer.
23. If you don’t have a family history of cancer, you’re safe.
24. You can get cancer from a sexual partner.
25. The treatment side effects are worse than the disease.
ANSWER: These are all myths. If you answered “False” to all then you must be an oncologist. If you answered “True” to some (or most!), then welcome to humanity! Here are the myth-busting facts:
1. Cancer-death risk rate is actually going down due to a more informed medical world and to early detection. However, aging people are more susceptible to cancer and they are a growing demographic. Ergo, it may seem that the risk of dying of cancer is dramatically increasing, but that’s not necessarily true.
2. Charcoal-grilled meat is not a surefire way to get cancer, but it does make one much more susceptible. Research shows that meat that is well-done or burnt releases substances that contribute to the growth of cancer. Solution: Eat charcoal-grilled meat less often and in moderate amounts.
3. Sunscreen? Good idea. But the more time you spend under the sun, the more protection you need. So follow the instructions on the package to make sure you apply sufficient SPF.
4. Inhaling and direct contact with pesticides may be hazardous to your health. Nonetheless, there’s no finding that directly links pesticides to cancer.
5. Surgery is part of the cancer treatment, not of the spread of cancer. If it were, it wouldn’t ever be suggested as an option in cancer treatment. This is a clear fallacy.
6. Chain-smoking or secondhand smoke causes lung cancer more than pollution. Yet, there is no lesser evil between the two.
7. Injuries per se don’t lead to cancer. Chances are, a tumor might only be discovered by accident because the person injures the part where the mass is located.
8. Cell phones and other electronic devices don’t emit enough radiation to cause anything really harmful to the body.
UPDATE: There is currently not enough evidence to prove for certain a direct connection between cell phone use and cancer. For more info: NCI, Mayo Clinic
9. Exposing yourself to risk factors early in life puts you at greater risk of acquiring cancer later. So think cause-and-effect, action-reaction. Reap what you sow.
10. A positive attitude doesn’t exactly cut it when it comes to cancer treatment and cure. Nevertheless, it does help the survivor feel stronger, and improve his/her quality of life, relationships, and sense of well-being.
11. There’s still no known cure for cancer despite advancements made in the scientific/medical world—especially because the different types and stages require various approaches to treatment. Experts have yet to learn more about what triggers the disease.
UPDATE: While there is still no known cure for cervical cancer (as well as anal, vulvar and vaginal cancer), it can now be prevented through vaccines that have been in the market for several years now. For more info: NCI
12. The medical industry profiting from the nondisclosure of cure? No actual profit can be gained from such a deception. Besides, a cancer cure is one medical breakthrough that’s impossible to hide in the Internet Age. This conspiracy theory is definitely busted!
13. Regular checkups and modern technology may help detect cancer early, but not always. Some cancers aren’t even easy to detect depending on type or location.
14. Having cancer doesn’t translate to becoming an invalid. Many options are open for survivors to stay active and productive, so they can go through their usual routines and even enjoy new experiences.
15. While some cancers seem painless, pain may be inevitable for most cancer patients. Fortunately, modern medicine has found ways to control pain, so patients can still go about managing their everyday lives.
16. It’s true that sugar helps energize cells, cancer cells included. But it’s still a misconception that sugar speeds up cancer-cell growth.
UPDATE: Check out this Mayo Clinic.
17. A needle biopsy or fine-needle aspiration is used to diagnose cancer. The procedure doesn’t cause metastasis.
18. Cancer comes in different forms. Therefore, treatment should be tailor-made to the individual’s particular needs and condition.
19. Cancer has no bias. Even good people fall victim to it, so preventive measures against cancer should be observed.
20. Cancer itself isn’t contagious, so there’s no reason to be leery of survivors. However, certain viruses—particularly those transmitted sexually like the human papillomavirus—can lead to cancer.
21. As said, cancer has no bias. Breast size isn’t a factor. Even men get breast cancer. UPDATES: Studies have mixed results and are currently not valid enough to conclude a direct link between cancer and breast size. See: Komen.org, NHS
22. There is no evidence to link underwire bras to breast cancer.
UPDATE: Still none. For more info: Komen.org
23. When there’s a history of cancer in the family, the risk of acquiring cancer through the genetic pool is high. Yet the absence of such history is no guarantee against developing cancer.
24. Sexual activity alone doesn’t cause cancer. However, the presence of a virus just might increase the chances of contracting it. The best strategy is to practice safe sex.
25. Some patients may forego treatment for cancer, especially if the disease is slow-growing. Doctors, of course, will still recommend treatment to prevent metastasis later on. Dealing with the disease sans treatment will prove to be much harder than it seems at first. Pain relief can only do so much.
So how did you fare in this test? It doesn’t really matter. At least now you can separate truth from fiction.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
National Health Service
Copyright © The Core Group Publishing, Inc.
How did you find this article? This was actually an article I wrote for The Big C magazine, Light Moments section (July-September 2006 issue). I added “UPDATES” from reputable sites to make sure that I am not misleading readers because a lot of changes can happen even in just a year. The magazine is no more, as well as its website.
Thanks for reading and I hope I’ve helped add info or clarify misconceptions. By the way, this is a part of the…