Cancer myths – busted!

If you suspect you or a loved one may be diagnosed with a form of cancer, misconceptions about this much feared disease will only make you worry more. Facing facts may not be easy, but you can take away some of the stress by eliminating the popular myths you may have heard. Scare stories galore pop up continuously over the internet, so we’ve separated the fact from the fiction to help put your mind at ease.

Myth 1: Antiperspirants or deodorants can cause breast cancer

Research by bodies such as the National Cancer Institute has found no evidence that underarm deodorants are linked to causing breast cancer. Some studies have suggested that these products contain harmful substances, such as aluminium compounds and parabens, which can be absorbed through the skin or enter the body through nicks caused by shaving. Despite this, clinical evidence shows that these chemicals are not cancer causers, although if they still worry you, then pick products that don’t feature these ingredients.

Woman cancer image

Myth 2: Microwaving plastic containers and wraps releases harmful, cancer-causing substances into food

As long as you use a clearly labelled, microwave-safe plastic container, you won’t come to any harm whatsoever. Plastic containers that are not intended for use in the microwave, such as margarine tubs and takeaway dishes, could melt and potentially leak chemicals into your food, so make sure you avoid these as no one wants coq au plastic.

Myth 3: People with cancer shouldn’t eat sugar, since it can cause cancer to grow faster

Sugar will not make cancer grow faster. All cells need blood sugar – or glucose – for energy, and while this will include cancer cells if you have cancer, eating sugar won’t mean that the disease will spread quicker. On the other side of the coin, depriving yourself of sugary foods will not slow down the growth of cancer. However, there is some evidence that a heavily sugar-laden diet can increase your risk of certain cancers, including esophageal cancer. It can also lead to weight gain / obesity and diabetes, which may increase the risk of cancer.

Myth 4: Good people don’t get cancer

Unfortunately bad things do happen to good people occasionally, and no matter what your lifestyle choices or personal situation, if you find symptoms or signs of cancer, then make sure you speak to your doctor right away.

Myth 5: Cancer is contagious

Cancer itself is not contagious in the slightest, so you will not catch it by spending time with a cancer patient – which is good as they will need all the hands on support you can muster. However, some contagious viruses can lead to cancer so it’s helpful to be aware of these. This could include sexually transmitted infections such as Human papillomavirus (HPV) and Hepatitis B or C.