There are some ‘well known facts’ about cancer that aren’t really facts. A lot of these misconceptions might sound scientifically accurate to a layman, but they aren’t. And instead of helping, these misconceptions can and do cause more harm than good. They cause people to worry more than they may need to and often stop people from taking the right steps and treatment, and many a times has led a patient to try unproven remedies or approach quacks for help. Here are some of these myths, debunked, with explanations grounded in real science.
- A common myth is that a cancer patient only has five years to live. That may have been the case almost half a century ago, but nowadays, slightly less than two-thirds of people diagnosed with the disease live past the dreaded five year mark.
- Another common myth is that you’re more likely to contract lung cancer by breathing city based air pollution than by smoking cigarettes. That’s patently false, as over 85 percent of all lung cancer patients contracted the illness either through smoking or through secondhand smoking.
- Some people hold the belief that you can get cancer by using deodorants, shampoos, and other such personal hygiene and toiletry products. They idea is that these products contain chemicals that enter the body through skin absorption and somehow trigger the disease. But as of now, no research backs this idea. There is literally zero evidence that using a cologne can cause you to get cancer.
- As the use of cell phones grows, a popular myth has sprung up that cell phone radiation (or radiation from any electronic device) can cause brain cancer. So far, no hard evidence has surfaced supporting this claim. Studies have not shown any real increase in risk for cell phone users over people who don’t use them. There is still more research being conducted, but currently it doesn’t seem like electronics can cause any form of cancer.
- Fluoride in drinking water is another cancer causing myth, with no empirical evidence showing that it does. For example, half the entire population of the US drinks fluoridated water, but neither has half the population contracted cancer, nor is there an outbreak in the country despite people doing so.
- Cancer is typically associated with a person going through a lot of pain, and it should come as no surprise that some people believe that since they don’t experience any sort of chronic pain, they are cancer free. Actually, it depends on what type of cancer you have, and what stage it’s in. This emphasis the need to look out for symptoms and detect it early. Get regular check-ups done.
- Lastly, there is the myth that cancer is genetic. That is to say, some believe that if there’s a history of cancer in your family, you are likely to get it as well. Again, depending on the type of cancer, that could very likely not be true. And even for those types of cancer that can be passed on from one generation to another (eg. breast, ovarian), the actual chances of it being passed on are very low – around 5 to 10 percent, actually.