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Common Myths About Causes of Cancer

Updated on March 8, 2011

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.

2) Deodorant

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.


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    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      I appreciate that there is no link between aspartame and cancer, however, I don't like the after taste of aspartame and avoid it.

      It is telling how much diet and smoking play a part in cancer. Don't smoke and eat well and you've staved off more than half of the risks.

    • TFScientist profile image

      Rhys Baker 

      6 years ago from Peterborough, UK

      A hub after my own heart. Voted up and fedback! It is almost humorous looking at lists of things that cause cancer that the tabloids publish! Well written and concise - thanks for posting.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Great Hub!

      What about bottled water - the plastic when it gets warm? I was never a bottled water fan but soda in plastic is something I do love. Any guidance?

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      10 years ago from Chennai

      This puts the causes of cancer in perspective. No sense in getting paranoid, right!

    • funride profile image

      Ricardo Nunes 

      10 years ago from Portugal

      That´s true, it´s the food we eat that causes it the most, but there are also the hereditary factors I supose.

      And it´s also true that some aliments less eaten (at least around here) like fruit and vegetables are great cancer protection food!

      Fantastic hub!

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 

      10 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      I have always believed it is the food we eat, and all the unknown added chemicals to our food that causes it. Good hub thanks for sharing that info

    • Maddie Ruud profile imageAUTHOR

      Maddie Ruud 

      10 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Oh dear, Stacie. I hadn't even considered that one. Definitely a myth, that.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      10 years ago from Seattle

      I had also heard that the underwires in bras can cause cancer. Any debunking of that?

      The first time I heard someone say deoderant caused cancer, a friend responded with: "Did you know the SUN causes cancer? What will we do?"

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Thank you Maddie for this very useful information.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thank you for making this clear to the general public. Did you ever hear about the Red Maraschino Cherry scare? People would not buy them because the bottled cherries supposedly caused cancer - instantly, so people came to believe. That particular red dye was banned by the FDA I think. Not sure.


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