Have you ever noticed that some myths about cancer just don’t go away?
Like the common question I hear almost every week, “will drinking coffee give me cancer?”
They may die down a bit, but inevitably, they resurface with the next generation. I’m sure you've heard most of these theories before – and may even believe some yourself.
But, after reading this article, you’ll see that you can do things like drink coffee – safely, and without increasing your risk of cancer.
Today, we’re putting that – and 6 other cancer myths – to rest once and for all.
1. Cancer is contagious. It’s amazing how widespread this particular cancer myth is, even in this day and age. Unlike bacteria, which can survive outside of your body long enough to infect someone else, cancer cells cannot continue to exist outside of their “host.” Being in contact with a person who has cancer presents absolutely no risk to you.
2. Living in a polluted city will give you lung cancer. This myth probably stems from smokers who live in cities looking for a reason not to quit smoking. The rationalization is that, since living in a polluted city will give them lung cancer anyway, they might as well keep smoking. However, the truth is much different. While living in heavily polluted cities increases other health risks, such as asthma or emphysema, the risk of lung cancer is nowhere close to that faced by smokers. Living in a polluted city only increases a person’s risk of getting lung cancer by 1%, versus the risk from smoking. In other words, no matter how bad the smog, it’s still better than smoke.
3. Microwaving plastic gives you cancer. It’s easy and convenient to reheat your lunch in a plastic food storage container – but is it safe? Turns out, if the container is labelled as “microwave safe” then it won’t cause cancer. Same goes for reheating food under plastic wrap. It’s true that when plastic is burned, it releases a dioxin that causes cancer – but the plastic must actually be burned, not just warmed up. Since microwaves don’t burn plastic, your food – and you – aren’t exposed to harmful toxins.
4. Wearing an underwire bra can cause breast cancer. Somewhere along the line, word got around that wearing underwire bras constricted the lymph nodes in a woman’s breast, causing toxins to build up in her lymph system Which would then turn into cancer. This is patently false. It is neither how bras work, nor is it how cancer cells are formed – and yet this cancer myth remains. However, there is no link between the type, or tightness, of a bra and breast cancer.
5. Cellphone use causes cancer. On the surface, this cancer myth at least seems to make sense. Holding a cellphone to your ear – and having all those radio waves near your brain – seems suspect, and possibly dangerous. However, according to the largest study ever done, cellphones are perfectly safe. The study ran from the 1980s through 2000, and followed 420,000 cellphone users without finding any correlation between cellphone use and cancer.
6. Hair dye causes cancer. This cancer myth at least had a basis in fact at one point. Hair dyes that were used prior to 1980 contained chemicals that very well might have increased the risk of cancer. However, since that time, hair coloring products have changed drastically. Modern products are safer, and no longer increase the risk of cancer, even with prolonged, individual use.
7. Drinking coffee causes cancer. And finally, back in 1981, a study came out that stated drinking coffee caused pancreatic cancer, and a myth was born. Since then, however, several further studies have shown that to be incorrect. If anything, some of those studies indicated that drinking coffee might actually help reduce the incidence of cancer in some people.
Even the threat of cancer can be scary, and we won’t deny it. But it doesn't have to be as scary as the cancer myths, rumors, and innuendo would have you believe. It’s okay to be a little skeptical. It’s okay to do your own homework. Learn for yourself if coffee – or any of these other 6 things – cause cancer. A little knowledge can mean a lot of power.