The World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has just released a new report and it makes for pretty grim reading. That’s because said report predicts there will be 18.1 million new cancer cases and 9.6 million people will lose their lives to the disease this year.
Furthermore, by the end of the century, cancer will be the number one killer globally as more emerging economies thrive, increasing the risks posed by lifestyle-related cancers.
To coincide with the release of this report, we decided to debunk six common cancer myths and misconceptions.
1. Cancer is a death sentence
First and foremost, one of the biggest myths associated with cancer is that developing it is tantamount to a death sentence. The bottom line is that it’s not. Provided they are detected and treated early enough, about a third of all cancers can be cured.
Moreover, five-year survival rates for some cancers, including breast, prostate, and thyroid cancers, are now 90% or better.
2. Cancer is contagious
You cannot catch cancer from someone who has it – fact!
This myth is particularly saddening as it could prevent someone receiving support from their friends and family at a time when they need it the most. It’s perfectly safe to touch, hug or kiss a person who has cancer.
3. Eating sugar makes cancer worse
While research has shown that cancer cells consume more glucose (sugar) than regular cells, no study has ever discovered a link between eating more sugar and cancer becoming worse. Also, removing sugar from your diet completely will not cause cancer to shrink or disappear.
However, a diet high in sugar can lead to excessive weight gain and increase your risk of developing diabetes, which can increase your risk of certain cancers.
4. Artificial sweeteners cause cancer
Another sugar-related myth is the belief that artificial sweeteners cause cancer. The fact is though that numerous studies have been conducted to determine whether artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, cyclamate, and acesulfame potassium, cause cancer in humans – all of which found no evidence they do.
5. Mobile phones increase your risk of developing cancer
This myth is a particularly intriguing one given the prevalence of mobile phones in society today. The good news is that no definitive link has been found between using a mobile phone and developing cancer.
Cancer is caused by genetic mutations and the type of low-frequency energy emitted by mobile phones has never been found to damage genes.
6. Cancer is 100% hereditary
Just because nobody in your family has ever had cancer doesn’t mean you are risk-free. Likewise, just because a relative of yours has had cancer doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to get it either. In fact, only around 5%-10% of cancers are caused by inherited genetic mutations. The remaining 90%-95% occur as a result of mutations that occur during a person’s life.
We’ve only outlined six cancer myths above, but there are many, many more. The best way to reduce your risk of developing cancer is to not smoke, limit your alcohol intake, watch your weight, protect yourself from harmful UV rays and be more physically active.
For more information about cancer, including steps you can take to lower your risk, visit the Cancer Research UK website.
I joined Premier Choice Group as an SME/Corporate Consultant in 2017 and look after the Healthcare & Protection needs of a nationwide portfolio. I began my career in Healthcare and Protection in 1985 with BUPA, before moving on to Royal & Sun Alliance. In 2002, I became an Intermediary and worked with Private Clients, SME’s and Corporate clients on a local, national and international basis.