8 Myths About Cancer Dispelled

8 Myths About Cancer Dispelled - Cancer Is a Modern Disease

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Cancer Myths

Separating fact from fiction isn’t always easy when it comes to cancer, partly because there are plenty of unknowns in the scientific community and plenty of stories that people like to share. Keeping up with all the new information and recent studies is a challenging feat, and it can be difficult to know who to trust, especially when you’d rather believe the positive or simple explanation rather than dig deeper into the evidence.

Before you commit to a hard and fast stance on cancer-causing factors or cancer-curing compounds, beware these cancer myths that have no basis in scientific fact, and need to be busted right away.

1. Cancer Is a Modern Disease

It may seem like cancer cases have spiralled out of control in just a few generations, but that’s a misconception. People have known about cancer for thousands of years, and there’s documentation in historic texts to prove it.

Today, screening procedures, detection, and general cancer knowledge is so much more advanced, that undoubtedly more cases of cancer are diagnosed. Also, there are more dietary and environmental factors in modern life that add to cancer risk, which very likely makes certain types of the disease more prevalent than they’ve ever been.

However, it’s important to realize cancer is not a man-made disease; in fact, over 15% of cancers are caused by naturally occurring bacteria and viruses.

Certain Ingredients Prevent Cancer

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2. Certain Ingredients Prevent Cancer

It can be comforting to think that a big helping of blueberries each morning and a plateful of veggies in the evening will guard your cells from nasty intruders, but antioxidants aren’t magical, nor are they foolproof ways to keep cancer at bay. A range of colorful, fresh fruit and vegetables is certainly beneficial in the fight against disease, but no single ingredient or family of ingredients will protect you completely.

Instead, the best holistic approach to cancer prevention is a balanced diet, good lifestyle habits like exercise and limiting alcohol intake, and not smoking – well-known and well-documented behaviors that will boost your natural defenses.

Sugar Feeds Cancer

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3. Sugar Feeds Cancer

Perhaps the most popular cancer claim today is the link between sugar and cancer progression. More and more health-savvy (but unscientific) sources push the fact that cancer feeds on sugar, and therefore the more sugar you eat, the faster you’re feeding your cancer. The truth is, all cells – cancerous and otherwise – feed on glucose, and although cancer cells consume more energy than normal cells, there is no evidence that eating more sugar makes more cancer cells.

Likewise, eliminating sugar from your diet is no guarantee that your cancer will stop growing, shrink, or disappear. However, since too much sugar does lead to conditions like obesity and diabetes, which can themselves lead to cancer, limiting your sugar intake is always a good idea.

You’re More Likely to Get Cancer If It Runs in Your Family

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4. You're More Likely to Get Cancer If It Runs in Your Family

Although there is certainly a genetic aspect to cancer, it may not be as significant as you think. Only 5 to 10% of cancers are hereditary, meaning there is a clear pattern of genetic mutations passed down from parent to child that will likely lead to cancer. In this cases, several family members will typically develop the same type of cancer.

In the other 90 to 95% of cancers, the mutations that lead to the growth of cancer cells are triggered by environmental factors and aging, or a combination of genetic predisposition and non-hereditary influences. Just because someone in your family contracted cancer does not mean you are also destined to develop it.

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5. Chemotherapy Harms More Than It Helps

Injecting toxic compounds into your body is a risky activity, but to suggest that chemotherapy is more harmful than helpful is to deny a huge body of evidence and the accurate, up-to-date statistics that say otherwise.

Not surprisingly, treatments designed to kill cancer cells will also kill healthy cells, and chemotherapy may not eradicate cancer completely. However, the right chemotherapy treatment can slow the progress of cancer significantly, and it is often a very important part of a multi-faceted approach to treatment, along with radiation and surgery.

As new drugs are developed, chemotherapy is becoming even more effective, and several types of cancer now have a much greater survival rate because of chemotherapy drugs.

Small Breasted Women Are Less Likely to Develop Breast Cancer

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6. Small Breasted Women Are Less Likely to Develop Breast Cancer

This is one of the most prevalent types of cancer, and given how many lives it touches, misinformation about breast cancer tends to spread quickly and deeply. One of the most stubborn myths is that breast cancer risk is tied to breast size, but there is no truth to that claim.

It can be more difficult to detect a cancerous lump or change in the tissue of larger breasts, but just because there is more tissue does not mean there’s a higher chance of a cancerous tumor developing. All women – regardless of their bra size – should perform regular self-exams and recommended annual screening.

Surgical Procedures Can Cause Cancer to Spread

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7. Surgical Procedures Can Cause Cancer to Spread

While there is a small theoretical possibility that haphazard procedures could transfer cells to other areas of the body, there is no reason to worry about the spread of cancer during an operation on a tumor.

Surgeons are extremely careful to follow very specific steps and standards when operating on a tumor or taking a biopsy: different surgical tools are used for each area, and very precise movements are used to not disturb the boundaries of a tumor. However, in some cases, the surgical team will find that the cancer has spread farther than they had imagined, and so a straightforward operation will not be enough.

Exposing the tumor to air will not cause the cancer to metastasize, contrary to what some people say.

Big Drug Companies Are Supressing a Cure

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8. Big Drug Companies Are Suppressing a Cure

It’s fairly easy to point fingers at the big drug companies, since they are in the business of selling medication, and it follows that they need to continue to earn profits to survive. While it’s tempting to believe that a miracle cure exists but isn’t being shared (yet), the truth is that it makes no sense for the government, drug companies, charities or facets of the scientific community to hide a cure for cancer.

Not only would an effective treatment make millions for the pharmaceutical companies in testing, trials and distribution, but doctors and researchers are free to conduct their own tests independent of the corporate overseers. One thing to keep in mind is that the vast majority of people in the medical community are committed to helping people, and have been personally touched by cancer or its effects – they aren’t in a position or mindset to hinder cancer research or advancements in treatment.

There are lots of opinions parading as facts, and just as many misleading claims that are, at best, partial truths. It’s important to remember that cancer is a complex disease, one that requires a complex response. There is no simple cure, but as sound research continues, chances of surviving cancer have never been better, and continue to improve – the five year survival rate for all cancers combined is around 66%.

Although it can take time, will, and courage, accepting the scientific reality is the first step to better treatment, which means you should take matters into your own hands and investigate cancer claims a bit further before you accept them.

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