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Myths and Facts About the Causes of Cancer

“My grandfather spoke a lot on mobile phones, so now he has cancer,” explained little Julio to his teacher. His classmates ran into their parents to tell them not to use their mobile phones anymore or else they would get cancer! Like this, there are dozens of myths about how people get cancer; and not only among children, but also adults. The concern is valid: cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States.

To clarify the myths and facts, the cancer specialist, Dr. Timothy Moynihan, from Mayo Clinic, analyzed the most common popular beliefs:

Myth: Antiperspirants or deodorants can cause breast cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, there is no conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants with breast cancer.
Some reports have suggested that these products contain harmful substances like aluminum and parabens, which can be absorbed through the skin or enter the body through cuts caused by shaving. However, there are no clinical studies, so far, providing an answer to the question of which products cause breast cancer. Evidence suggests these products don’t have this effect.
Anyway, if someone is very concerned about whether underarm deodorants or antiperspirants can increase cancer risk, we recommend choosing products that don’t contain the chemicals that cause concern.

Myth: Plastic containers and microwaveable wraps can permeate food with harmful substances that cause cancer 
Fact:Plastic containers and microwaveable wraps don’t pass chemicals to food.
However, the US Food and Drug Administration warns that plastic containers that have not been manufactured for that use can melt and permeate food with chemicals. Therefore, it is important to avoid containers or wraps that are not microwaveable, such as those of margarine or whipped toppings.
Before using a container, make sure the label says “microwave safe.”

Myth: People with cancer should not eat sugar, because it can make cancer grow faster. 
Fact:Sugar doesn’t make cancer grow faster. All cells, including cancer cells, depend on blood sugar (glucose) to obtain energy. But providing more sugar to cancer cells won’t make them grow faster.
Moreover, depriving cancer cells from sugar won’t slow down their growth.
This misconception may come from a misinterpretation of the scan that uses positron injection, a technique used to create detailed images of body tissue, using a small amount of a “radioactive tracer,” typically in the form of glucose. All body tissues absorb a portion of the substance, but the tissues that are using more energy—including cancer cells—absorb large quantities. For this reason, some people have come to the conclusion that cancer cells grow faster with sugar. But this isn’t true.

Myth: Good people don’t get cancer
Fact:In the past, the disease was commonly seen as a punishment for bad actions or thoughts. In some cultures, this idea is still held by many. Anyway, if true, how could we explain that a 6-month baby may have cancer? It’s obvious that a little baby can’t cause any harm. Therefore, there is no evidence that anyone might get cancer because he/she “deserves” it.

Myth: Cancer is contagious
Fact:There is no need to avoid contact with someone who has cancer. Infection is not possible. You may touch a person with cancer and share time with him/her safely. In fact, this type of support is very much appreciated.

However, although cancer itself is not contagious, some infectious viruses can lead to cancer development. Some examples of viruses that may cause cancer are:

• Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer or other forms of cancer.
• Hepatitis C: a virus that is transmitted through sex or intravenous use of infected needles, can cause liver cancer.

To protect yourself from these viruses, it is advisable to speak with your doctor.

These are some of the myths that surround cancer, an increasingly feared disease that offers a better prognosis each day for those who are diagnosed early. However, if you have questions or concerns, it is always best to consult with a specialist.


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