Cancer: Myths and Misconceptions

Transfer of material from the site of the National Institute of Cancer of the USA NIH National Cancer Institute .

When false ideas are based on outdated scientific theories, they seem to be true.
Such misconceptions make people afraid of what they do not need to be afraid of at all, and can push them to the wrong choice of therapeutic drugs or approaches to the prevention of the disease. In this article, in the light of recent scientific evidence, common prejudices about cancer are considered.

Cancer is a death sentence?

Since the 90s in the US, the probability of dying from cancer has gradually decreased. Five-year survival for breast cancer, prostate and thyroid cancer has increased to 90%. The average survival rate for all types of cancer is 66%.

Of course, you need to understand that these figures are obtained on a large sample. In each case, factors such as the rate of development of the disease, metastasis, the availability of effective therapeutic drugs, the overall health of the patient and much more play a role.

Does consuming large amounts of sugar lead to cancer?

Not. Although it has been established that cancer cells consume more glucose than normal cells, there are no data that would confirm that sweets lead to the development of cancer, or vice versa - data that indicate that giving up sugar contributes to recovery.

However, it should be noted that excessive sugar consumption leads to weight gain, and overweight is associated with an increased risk of several types of cancer. To consider the issue in more detail, you can read this material .

Artificial sweeteners cause cancer?

Do not cause. Safety studies have been conducted on saccharin (Sweet 'N Low, Sweet Twin, NectaSweet), cyclamate, aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One), sucralose (Splenda), and neotama. It has been shown that consuming these products does not cause cancer. All these sweeteners are FDA approved. To read the question, you can read a collection of data on the topic .

Is cancer a contagious disease?

In most cases, no. Cancer is not an infectious disease. Cancer can be transmitted from one person to another in the only possible case - through organ or tissue transplantation. A person who has an organ or tissue transplanted from a cancer donor increases the risk of developing the disease. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that this risk is very small: approximately two cases per 10,000 transplants. When organ transplants are trying to avoid donors, in the history of the disease which means cancer.

Oncological diseases can also be caused by certain viruses (papillomavirus) and bacteria (for example, Helicobacter pylori). If the virus and bacteria can be transmitted from person to person, the oncological disease they are capable of causing cannot be.

Additional material on the topic: Helicobacter pylori , papillomavirus , vaccines .

Does a person’s positive or negative emotional attitude influence recovery or the risk of cancer?

There is no data linking a person’s emotional state with the risk of developing cancer. Naturally, the emotional state of a sick person fluctuates. People with a positive outlook on the world are more likely to maintain social connections and remain active, and this, in turn, helps them cope with the disease.
Information about the relationship of cancer and mental stress here .

Can surgery to remove a tumor or tissue biopsy cause the spread of malignant cells throughout the body?

The likelihood that surgery will cause the spread of cancer cells is extremely small. To prevent this, surgeons follow strict rules and special procedures.

Here you can read about metastasis.

Cell phones cause cancer?

This is not confirmed by scientific research. Cancers cause mutations in the genes, and the low-frequency radiation of the phones cannot damage the genome.

To familiarize yourself with the topic, you can read the material “ cell phone and the risk of cancer ”.

Power lines cause cancer?

According to recent studies - no. From the electromagnetic radiation protect (or weaken it), for example, the walls of houses. Additional material on the topic is here . ( translator's note: in fact, the conclusions in the article are ambiguous. The question of electromagnetic radiation remains open. The factor can be considered as potentially dangerous, although the mechanism of action cannot be established ).

Can plant based medicinal products cure cancer?

Not. There are studies that show that additional medications, including those based on certain plants, can help patients cope with the side effects of treatment. However, there are no studies proving that herbal remedies effectively treat cancer.

In fact, some herbal preparations can even be harmful when used simultaneously with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Patients should inform doctors about what additional medications they are taking - including vitamins and herbal products.

To understand the issue in more detail, we recommend reading this section on the site .

If someone in the family has cancer, is it likely that other family members will also get sick?

As a rule, there is no such probability. Genetic mutations lead to the occurrence of the disease. Only 5-10% of cancers develop as a result of inherited mutations. Such a mutation can often cause the same type of cancer in family members.

The remaining 90-95% of cancers occur as a result of mutations that result from aging or exposure to environmental factors, such as smoking or severe irradiation.

Here you can read about genetic tests for hereditary forms of cancer, and here about the causes and risk factors.

If no one has cancer in the family, does this mean that other family members will not get sick?

Not. According to the latest data, in the future approximately 40% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their life ( translator's note: the forecast is based on data for 2010-2012 and applies to the United States ). Most types of cancer develop due to mutations, which, in turn, are a natural consequence of aging or occur due to exposure to environmental factors (smoking or radiation). Other factors , such as diet and physical activity, also play a role in causing the disease.

Deodorants and antiperspirants cause breast cancer?

Do not cause. Chemicals contained in deodorants and antiperspirants do not affect changes in breast tissue.

Here you can read more.

Does hair dye cause cancer?

There is no convincing evidence that the use of hair dye increases the likelihood of developing the disease. But some studies have shown that hairdressers who work a lot with hair dye increase the risk of developing bladder cancer.
The topic is more disclosed in the materials at the link .


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