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Common Myths About Causes of Cancer
As with any illness that has no universal cure, cancer is surrounded by an abundance of myths and misinformation. I've compiled a list of what may be the top five most commonly held, misguided beliefs about the causes of cancer.
1) Cell phones
30% of survey respondents in a poll by Discovery Health believed that electronic devices like mobile phones increased the risk of cancer over time. This is understandable, as while there were initial reports that implied that such a link might exist, and they were given extensive news coverage, the later studies that refuted that claim did not make the front page. In actual fact, only 2 of over 16 studies on cellular phone use and cancer have found any indication of a correlation between the two.
Internet postings and chain emails linking deodorant use to breast cancer spread like wildfire throughout the late 90's and early new millennium. Neither the FDA nor the National Cancer Institute have been able to uncover a link between the two, despite extensive research.
3) Artificial Sweeteners
Although the artificial sweetener cyclamate was banned in 1969 due to research that indicated a link to bladder cancer, no follow-up studies have managed to duplicate the findings. Studies on saccharine and aspartame have also failed to be conclusively linked to cancer.
4) Artificial Flavorings
The difference between artificial and natural flavorings is often misunderstood. The chemical compounds created are identical (or very nearly so), the differentiation being due to the source of the ingredients from which the flavorings were derived. In some cases, "artificial" flavorings have fewer health risks than "natural" ones.
5) Fluoridated Water
The correlation between fluorine in drinking water and cancer risk has been hotly contested for years. Over 50% of Americans drink fluoridated water. However, according to a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, these citizens are no more likely to develop cancer, and that previous studies have produced no credible evidence to the contrary.
While it is important to take your health, and specifically cancer risks, very seriously, it is also essential that you do not believe every forwarded email or suggested cause. Even in studies which show a possible relationship between two factors, this is not conclusive evidence that the correlation necessarily implies causation. Do not by any means ignore ongoing research, but continue to live in a responsible manner (without crossing into paranoia), as you follow developments.
More information on cancer and the myths concerning it can be found at the links below.
Please note: I do not claim that these activities have no link to cancer, or that none will be found in the future, only that as yet, no link has been conclusively found.