4 myths about cancer

mythDespite all the progress made against it, cancer is still a scary disease to many people. It doesn’t help that there’s a lot of misinformation—particularly on the Internet—about what does or doesn’t cause cancer.

Here’s what you should know about four common cancer myths:

Myth No.1: Using deodorants and antiperspirants can cause breast cancer.

Reality: This myth is based on the premise that underarm products contain harmful substances that can cause breast cancer when they are absorbed through the skin or enter the body through nicks caused by shaving. But neither the National Cancer Institute nor the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found any link between breast cancer and deodorants or antiperspirants.

Myth No.2: Living in a polluted city increases your risk for lung cancer as much as if you smoked a pack of cigarettes every day.

Reality: Air pollution may make it hard to breathe—particularly if you have a lung disease like asthma—but it’s not going to significantly raise your risk of lung cancer. Smoking, on the other hand, is the No.1 risk factor for the disease.

Myth No.3: Talking on a cellphone can give you brain cancer.

Reality: In fact, just the opposite may be true. According to the American Cancer Society, one study found that long-term cell phone users appear to have a lower risk of brain cancer.

Myth No.4: Breast cancer survivors need to avoid soy.

Reality: Soy foods contain isoflavones, which can act like a weak estrogen in the body. The concern has been that eating these foods could fuel estrogen-related cancers. However, large population studies have shown that eating soy in moderate amounts—one to two standard servings a day—is OK for women who’ve had breast cancer. Taking soy supplements, though, is not recommended.

Additional source: American Institute for Cancer Research

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