With so many people being diagnosed with cancers every day, it’s natural that you’d want to avoid known causes. But the cancer-causes rumor mill has worked overtime for some years. The question is: Are you worrying about the right things?
You’ve probably heard that cellphones can cause cancer — as can computers, artificial sweeteners and even microwaves. It may seem like cancer risks are everywhere, but much of what is rumored to cause cancer doesn’t.
A recent survey by the American Institute for Cancer Research revealed that many Americans don’t understand true cancer risks. For example, most Americans believe that genetically modified foods, food additives and pesticides used on produce cause cancer, though no definitive evidence exists. The same survey reported that most Americans don’t realize that alcohol use, lack of physical activity and poor diet increase cancer risks.
Here are some common myths and scientific facts that might help ease your mind:
MYTH: Constant cellphone conversations lead to cancer.
FACT: Studies show no definitive link between cellphone use and cancer, but research continues in this relatively new area. Cellphones emit nonionizing radiation, the type that isn’t cancerous. X-rays and radon emit ionizing radiation, which can cause cancer.
MYTH: Antiperspirants that contain aluminum can cause breast cancer.
FACT: Although no conclusive evidence links antiperspirants and breast cancer, some research suggests that the aluminum in antiperspirants, when absorbed by the skin, can mimic the effects of estrogen — which promotes the growth of breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute says more research is needed.
MYTH: Reusing plastic water bottles can lead to cancer.
FACT: An urban legend warned that reusing plastic bottles, especially those exposed to heat, is dangerous because the plastic contains diethylhexyl adipate (DEHA). Most plastic water bottles, however, don’t contain DEHA, and the chemical compound hasn’t been classified as cancerous by the American Cancer Society or the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
MYTH: Using a microwave increases cancer risk.
FACT: Food and water that have been microwaved are not radioactive, nor do they cause cancer. The radio waves cause the molecules to heat up, but the chemical structure of the food remains unchanged and is safe to eat.
If you’d like to learn more about cancer or other health risks, try our HealthAware Risk Assessments. Taking control of your health is one way to defend yourself and those you love against disease.