Google “cancer myths” and up pops a list of sites refuting anti-cancer diets and alternative therapies. While some of these myths have proven to be false or misleading, others can be less clear.
Here are four commonly made inquiries about what increases or reduces the risk of cancer, and what specialists say in regards to them.
Myth 1: Eating out may increase your cancer risk:
Large and frequent helpings of red meat and processed food may increase the risk of colon and stomach cancer. In any case, that there is no direct connection between eating “outside” food and an increase in cancer risk compared with having home-cooked food.
Eating out just means you might be more enticed to order processed food. Another drawback to eating out is you will have less control over how food is cooked.
For example, you can’t control how charred your steak is, thus you can’t prevent the cancer-causing substances that may increase your risk of growing pancreatic cancer by up to 60 percent, as per a University of Minnesota ponder.
Myth 2: Consume super foods to fight cancer:
Consuming more anti-cancer food like kale, garlic, blueberries and green tea wouldn’t protect you from cancer.
Truth be told, there is no such thing as a superfood that can fight cancer, as indicated by Gerard Wong, a senior dietitian with Allied Health Parkway Cancer Centre.
“Cancer is a complex disease with many possible causes that may affect different individuals differently. Claims that one type offruit or food has the ability to prevent or cure cancer entirely are a gross oversimplification. Eventually, a well-balanced diet and healthy lifestyle are still the main keys to reducing the risk of getting cancer”. Eating more of such food, however, has its merits as fruit and vegetables are part of a balanced diet.
Myth 3: Avoid sugar to prevent your body from growing cancer:
The fast-growing rate of cancer cells implies that they need a lot of fuel mainly glucose derived from sugar and carbohydrates. However, there is no evidence that demonstrates a sugar-free diet lowers the risk of getting cancer.
All the cells in the body need glucose to function and there is no way of directing glucose to only non-tumour cells. Even when sugar and carbohydrates are cut from the diet, the cancer cells can resort to fat and protein for fuel, as per the site of Cancer Research UK.
But there is an indirect link between cancer risk and sugar through obesity. The over-consumption of sugar can lead to weight gain. French analysts have revealed in The Lancet Oncology that nearly 500,000 cancer cases worldwide each year are cancer to obesity.
As per recent reports, public health experts predict that in the US, obesity will soon overtake tobacco as the leading preventable cause of cancer. Excess fat can function like an organ that secretes hormone-like substances that control growth, metabolism and reproductive cycles. It is these processes that fat can turn on and off that can affect cancer, especially breast and womb cancers, as indicated by Cancer Research UK.
Myth 4: Using a mobile phone increases cancer risk:
The verdict is still out on this one. The radio frequency energy emitted by the mobile phone, and even non-communication devices, such as the microwave oven are considered non-ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation, on the other hand, comes from X-rays and exposure to cosmic rays.
We only know that high doses of ionizing radiation are associated with an increased risk of developing blood cancers. This form of radiation isn’t the same as the radiofrequency radiation used in the telecommunications industry. However, the research has not possessed the ability to build up what kinds of non-ionizing radiation may lead to a tumour.
For example, rodents were found to have a higher incidence of malignant brain tumours when exposed to Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA for 2G and 3G phones), while those exposed to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM for 4G telephones) had no association with cancer. Those were the partial results released by the US National Toxicology Program in May 2016.
The total outcomes will be declared for peer review and public comment by early 2018. This study highlights the difficulties in establishing cancer risk to different types radiation exposure and the requirement for a proper understanding of what exactly is being studied.