Myths and Truths
Myth: What someone does as a young adult has little impact on their chances of getting cancer later in life.
Truth: The truth is that most cases of cancer are the consequence of many years of exposure to several risk factors. What you eat, whether you are physically active, whether you get sunburned regularly, and especially, whether you smoke as a young person have a substantial influence on whether you develop cancer later in life.
Myth: There is currently a cure for cancer, but the medical industry won't tell the public about it because they make too much money treating cancer patients.
Truth: One overarching fact that clearly disputes this conspiracy theory is that doctors and laboratory scientists along with their families die of cancer at the same rate as everyone else in the United States. There is one exception, though. Health-care professionals and biomedical researchers are less likely to develop and/or die of lung, larynx, esophageal and other tobacco-related cancers because they are more aware of the dangers of tobacco and are less likely to smoke than the rest of the population.
Myth: Electronic devices, like cell phones, can cause cancer in the people who use them.
Truth: A few studies suggest a link with certain rare types of brain tumors, but the consensus among credible, well-designed studies is that there is no consistent association between cell phone use and cancer. Considerable research has also found no clear association between any other electronic consumer products and cancer. Cell phones, microwave ovens and related appliances emit low-frequency radiation — the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that includes radio waves and radar.
Myth: Some injuries can cause cancer later in life.
Truth: The fact is that a fall, a bruise or any other injury is almost never the cause of a cancer. Sometimes a person might visit the doctor for an injury and a tumor is found at that time. But the injury did not cause the tumor; it was already there. It's also common for people to pay more attention to an injured part of their body, and some people discover tumors while rubbing a painful area.
Myth: Living in a polluted city is a greater risk for lung cancer than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
Truth: The truth is just the opposite, but more than a third of those questioned in the Discovery Health/Prevention survey agreed with the myth that living in a polluted city is a greater risk for lung cancer than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Air pollution is far less likely to cause lung cancer than smoking cigarettes. Being a smoker or even being frequently exposed to secondhand smoke is more dangerous than the level of air pollution encountered in U.S. cities. Dirty air does contribute to lung cancer risk, but has a greater impact on heart disease, asthma and chronic bronchitis. American Cancer Society estimates that air pollution increases the risk of lung cancer by 1/100th of the increased risk brought on by smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
Most people tend to overestimate the risk caused by factors imposed on them by others and to underestimate the seriousness of risks caused by their own behavior.
Myth: Treating cancer with surgery causes it to spread throughout the body.
Truth: Specialists in cancer surgery know how to safely take biopsy samples and to remove tumors without causing spread of the cancer. In many cases, surgery is an essential part of the cancer treatment plan. For a few types of cancer, surgeons take extra precautions to prevent any chance of the cancer spreading. Doctors who perform surgery for cancer are specialists and are highly trained in the intricacies of cancer and anatomy.
Myth: Household bug spray can cause cancer.
Truth: Available evidence does not suggest a link between household use of pesticides (bug spray) and cancer. On the other hand, these products can be dangerous if precautions regarding breathing and direct contact are not followed. Careful use of pesticides is especially important for agricultural workers, who may be exposed at much higher levels than people who occasionally spray a bug in their home or garden.
Myth: You can prevent skin cancer by putting on one application of sunscreen at the start of each day.
Truth: The use of sunscreen on a daily basis is a good practice for reducing skin cancer risk. The problem with it is that it can sometimes give a false sense of security. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied, and even then it still only provides a certain amount of protection.
Myth: The risk of dying from cancer in the United States is increasing.
Truth: Fewer than half the people diagnosed with cancer today will die of the disease. Some are completely cured, and many more people survive for years with a good quality of life, thanks to treatments that control many types of cancer.
Cancer is not one disease, but many different diseases with different causes. For that reason one breakthrough "cure for cancer" is probably not likely to come along. There probably won't be one date in history when people remember that the cure for cancer was announced — just as infectious diseases weren't conquered on one particular day. Instead, every year will bring more and more cures for more and more types of cancer.
Myth: If your mom or dad had cancer, you will have it too.
Truth: While it is true that some cancers are genetic, this does not mean that one will definitely develop cancer because of heredity. Cancers such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer are a few of the cancers that can be passed down genetically. If a child inherits the gene, it raises the likelihood of developing cancer, but does not guarantee cancer.
Myth: Positive thinking will cure cancer.
Truth: While studies show that maintaining a positive outlook during cancer treatment is helpful, it will not cure cancer. Optimism helps with quality of life and peace of mind during treatment. However, there is no scientific evidence that a positive attitude will cure cancer.
Myth: Cancer causes hair loss.
Truth: Cancer does not cause hair loss. Hair loss is one of the possible side effects of cancer treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation therapy. But not everyone who has chemotherapy or radiation loses their hair either.
Myth: Hair dye causes brain cancer.
Truth: There has been a lot of speculation about hair dye and cancer. It has been thought that hair dye caused several different types of cancers like bladder and breast cancer, but there is no evidence of it causing brain tumors. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on May 25, hair dye does not increase the risk of developing cancer. This cancer myth is believed by many Americans.
Myth: Antiperspirants and deodorant can cause cancer.
Truth: According to the National Cancer Society, there is no conclusive evidence from recent studies that wearing them can cause breast cancer. This cancer myth is by far one of the most popular among women.
Myth: Only women get breast cancer.
Truth: This is by far the biggest cancer myth of all. Men get breast cancer also! An estimated 1500 men will be diagnosed and about 500 will die from the disease this year. Male breast cancer is uncommon, yet still happens.
Myth: Some types of cancer can be contagious.
Truth: Cancer is not contagious. However, there are two known contagious viruses, HPV and Hepatitis C that can lead to cancer. HPV is a known risk factor for cervical cancer and Hepatitis C is a risk factor for liver cancer. Both viruses can be transmitted through blood to blood contact such as sharing needles and transfusions.
The Cancer Center at Presbyterian
8300 Constitution Ave. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87110
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday
4100 High Resort Blvd. SE
Rio Rancho, NM 87124
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Tuesday-Friday