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Cancer Myths and Facts

Posted 12/11/2014

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  Some myths just won't die. You surely have heard (and heard and heard and heard) the "fact" that antiperspirants cause breast cancer--as do too tight bras. Then there is the one about using plastic containers in microwaves; that one is usually attributed to Johns Hopkins. For several years, they actually had a disclaimer on their website, saying it was not true, and they had nothing to do with the circulating rumor. One could almost put some study results in this same category (not quite, I know). For example, years ago, there was a study that suggested that drinking coffee increased one's risk of developing pancreatic or liver cancer. A couple of years later, there was another study that suggested exactly the opposite.

  ASCO has put together an informative and entertaining list of "Cancer Myths and Facts"; it is worth reading and, perhaps, worth sending to some of those pesky relatives and friends who just won't back off. Here is the start and then a link to read more:

MYTH: Cancer is contagious.
No cancer is contagious. However, some cancers are
caused by viruses that can be spread from person to
person. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually
transmitted disease that increases the risk of
developing cervical, anal, and some types of head and
neck cancers. Other viruses, such as hepatitis B and
hepatitis C, which are transmitted by infected intravenous
needles and sexual activity, increase the risk of developing
liver cancer.

MYTH: If you have a family history of cancer, you will get it too; there’s nothing you
can do about it.
Although having a family history of cancer increases your risk of developing the disease, it is not a definite prediction of your future health.
In fact, an estimated 4 out of 10 cancers can be prevented by making simple lifestyle changes, such as eating a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, limiting alcoholic beverages, and avoiding tobacco products. Additionally, doctors may recommend that some people who have inherited a genetic mutation (change) that puts them at high risk for cancer have surgery or take medication to reduce the chance
that cancer will develop.


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