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Find out which superfoods can help reduce your risk of developing cancer.

8 Cancer Myths Debunked

Although more is still more to be known about the condition that affects an approximate one out of every three Americans, there are common misconceptions circling around cancer that deserve clarification. From answering "Does sugar feed cancer?" to myths about cancer causes, bistroMD is here to sift through the confusion and offer sound advices.

8 Cancer Myths Debunked

Cancer Myth #1: Cancer "Just Happens."

While there are multiple unmodifiable risk factors that may cause cancer, there are also preventative measures one can implement to reduce the likelihood or prevent its occurrence, including diet, exercise, and smoke cessation. Additionally, just because you may have a "cancer gene," does not mean a final destination of a cancer diagnosis.

Cancer Myth #2: If Someone In My Family Has Cancer, I Will Get It, Too.

Well, not necessarily. Although genetics can play a role does play a role in cancer development, other additional factors identified above, too. However, this also does not imply if cancer has not affected a family member, you are risk-free. Unfortunately, everyone is at risk of developing cancer.

Cancer Myth #3: Sugar Feeds Cancer.

There is a common misconception that eating sugar will essentially feed cancer and cause it to spread. While cancerous cells do require more sugar or glucose than others, there really is no sort of confirmative evidence to conclude its consumption feeds cancer per se. And most research shows sugar's interconnection with insulin and other growth factors is what influences cancer growth the most, as well as other chronic diseases. Ultimately, reducing sugar intake can lead to weight maintenance and result to a healthier lifestyle, which can lessen the risk of cancer and potential recurrence.

Cancer Myth #4: Artificial Sweeteners Cause Cancer.

One of the most common myths about cancer causes lies in the hands of artificial sweeteners, specifically the concern of aspartame. But rest assured, countless researchers have put such worry to test and conclude artificial sweeteners as safe and approved by the FDA. However, the artificial sweetener cyclamate repealed its stamp of approval in 1969 after demonstrating a link between bladder cancer in humans. Find more on artificial sweeteners and cancer at the National Cancer Institute's official webpage.

Cancer Myth #5: The Use of Cell Phones Can Cause Cancer.

The link between cell phones and cancer sparked worry related to the radiofrequency (RF) waves that emit off. Despite the vast and ongoing research, available studies have found no link between the two, though they also have some limitations. For an in-depth examination of cell phones and its worry of cancer risk, the American Cancer Society explains here. But until more is known, Americans could all reduce their screen time use and benefit from a digital detox.

Cancer Myth #6: You Will Experience Weight Loss During Cancer Treatment.

Weight loss tends to be of concern related to the side effects of cancer treatments, including reduced appetite and compromised nutrient utilization. In fact, nearly half of cancer patients experience cancer cachexia, a wasting syndrome marked by significant weight and muscle loss. But even if such side effects are present, appetite stimulants may help increase food intake and discount the large risk of weight loss and malnutrition.

Cancer Myth #7: Herbal Use Cures Cancer.

To date, there is no confirmative evidence to prove herbal use cures cancer. And while some studies suggest herbs may be used to compliment other intensive therapies, cancer patients should consult with their treatment team before taking any sort of alternative, herbal supplement. In fact, some supplements may even be harmful during chemo and radiation therapies. But in addition to herbs, it is important to remember singling out one single food or food group to cure cancer can be harmful to health, especially without a consultation with your primarily healthcare provider and oncologist.

Cancer Myth #8: When Undergoing Treatment, You Should Exclusively Rest.

Although rest is important, so is staying active. In fact, newer research suggests individuals undergoing cancer treatment and exercise regularly have lower rates of cancer-related fatigue, supplementary improving physical function and quality of life. Studies have also suggested exercise can help breast cancer survivors live a longer, more active life, further showing to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Sydney Lappe's Photo
Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on May 19, 2017. Updated on August 06, 2019.


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