Addressing Common Myths About Cancer


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I recently read an article published by regarding the most common myths about cancer.  It was a very interesting article where Dr. Timothy J. Moynihan, oncologist, internist and palliative care specialist from Mayo Clinic shared his insight surrounding the most common cancer myths in an article titled “Sugar, Cell Phones and Secret Cures: Debunking Cancer’s Biggest Myths”.

A few myths Dr. Moynihan addressed were:

  • The Cancer-Sugar Connection:  some people believe that sugar consumption can cause or accelerate the growth of cancer.  Myth or Fact?  Dr. Moynihan indicated that this does seem to be the case in the lab, but this has not yet been able to be confirmed in humans.  He stated, “At this time there is no human data that suggests sugar consumption will make cancer grow faster. However, there is also no data that going on a completely sugar-free diet helps cancer.”  
  • Cell Phones and Brain Cancer: some people believe that the exposure to radiofrequency energy through the use of cell phones increases your risk of developing brain cancer. Myth or Fact? Dr. Moynihan indicated there is still no reason to believe cell phones cause brain cancer.  He stated “If they did cause cancer, we would have seen a large increase in cancer incidents by now.”
  • The “Secret Cure”: some people believe the medical community has a cure for cancer but since cancer makes so much money, the secret for a cure is kept a secret.  Myth or Fact? Dr. Moynihan states “they certainly would not “hide” these treatments from their loved ones, and many have very pure motives to try and find effective treatments for these terrible diseases.”
  • Beautiful, But Sick?: some people believe “natural” beauty products (hair dyes, make up, body and hair care items) are safer to use than commercialized products due to potential toxin exposure. Myth or Fact? Dr. Moynihan on the other hand states “There is little reason to think that “natural” products are safer. There is no data to suggest the chemicals in hair dyes or beauty products cause cancer. Nature produces many very toxic chemicals, often much more toxic than things that humans can make. For instance, toxins such as cyanide are natural, as well as cancer-fighting chemotherapy agents, like Taxol (paclitaxel), which comes from the bark of the Pacific yew tree.”

Dr. Moynihan pointed out some interesting facts in his effort to debunk these common cancer myths.  He further suggested for those interested in reducing their personal risk of developing cancer they should consider:

  • staying active
  • eating healthier
  • eating in smaller quantities

He stated that obesity and inactivity are two large contributors to cancer diagnosis.

Additional suggestions for reducing personal risk of developing cancer are:

  • Not smoking or using other tobacco products
  • consuming alcohol in moderation

He also shared the importance of taking preventative measures such as:

  • vaccinations for HPV (human papillomavirus and hepatitis B)
  • following other screening recommendations (i.e. colonoscopy, mammogram, etc).  

For more information please review the full article at: “Sugar, Cell Phones and Secret Cures: Debunking Cancer’s Biggest Myths”.

Photo by Sebastien Gabriel on Unsplash