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The Truth about Cancer Causes: 10 Myths Revealed

Updated on December 7, 2015

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death around the world. Statistics from the World Health Organization show that in 2012, cancer has taken 8.2 million lives, and it is estimated that new cancer cases will rise to 70% in the next two decades.

Awareness and education are the first steps to battling cancer. If you know what you’re up against, you can find ways to prevent it. However, there are a lot of misconceptions about cancer causes, and they can cloud your judgment and keep you from practicing health habits that can lessen your risk or give you a false dread about things that are in fact harmless.

It’s about time to get those wrong notions out of the way. Here’s a list of ten common myths about cancer causes and the truth behind them.

1. Cancer is only inherited.


The presence of cancer in your family’s bloodline may be a risk factor for cancer, but not all cancer cases are inherited. In fact, only 5-10% of cancer cases are caused by harmful gene mutations inherited from parents.

It’s important to note that cancer originates from gene mutations that occur due to unhealthy habits such as smoking, lack of exercise, and poor diet. Exposure to radiation, chemicals, and carcinogens can also spur the development of cancer in the body.

Clearly, having a relative with cancer doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have the disease. At the same time, you’re not spared from it even if there’s no presence of cancer illness in your family.

2. Cancer is contagious.

Mingling and being in contact with cancer patients will not increase your risk of acquiring the disease. No, you don’t have to shun a friend or relative with cancer away because their condition will not be passed on to you even if you spend time with them. If anything, you should increase the frequency of your visits and show them your support because battling such disease is a very tough fight to be in.

Meanwhile, there are viruses that are contagious and can lead to cancer such as Human papillomavirus (HPV) and Hepatits B or C. More so, cancer can also spread to another person through organ or tissue transplants, but this rarely happens because medical professionals don’t accept organ donations from people who have any form of cancer history.

3. Surgery can cause cancer spread.

Some people believe that surgery and exposure to oxygen promotes cancer spread because they feel too much discomfort and pain after a surgical procedure. Meanwhile, others develop this wrong notion because more cancer cells are found after surgery. However, they fail to realize that the cancer was already there, but was just undetected during screening and imaging tests.

There’s no evidence that surgery can spur the spread of cancer. In fact, it’s the other way around because surgical procedures are commonly recommended and one of the most effective treatment options for battling the disease.

4. Too much acid in your diet increases the risk for cancer.


Cancer cells can’t thrive in an alkaline environment, but so does the rest of the body. There’s no conclusive evidence that an acidic diet increases a person’s risk for cancer. The kidney regulates the pH balance in the body, and any excess alkali or acid is simply flushed in the form of urine.

5. Too much sugar can cause cancer.

Sugar provides energy to both normal and cancer cells. Clearly, sugar is essential for health. But even if it fuels cancer cells, there’s no conclusive evidence that sugar intake can worsen the cancer or removing sugar off completely in the diet can cause it to disappear.

It’s important to note, on the other hand, that excessive sugar intake promotes obesity and weight gain—which are risk factors to several types of cancer and other diseases.

So if you love indulging in sweet treats every once in a while, there’s no need to give up that simple pleasure just to avoid cancer. All you need to do is keep it in moderation to avoid putting on extra weight and being at risk for certain diseases and conditions.

6. Personal use of hair dyes and antiperspirants can cause cancer.


For years, many believe that using hair dyes and antiperspirants can cause cancer. However, there’s no strong evidence to back these claims up.

Personal use of hair dyes has no direct link to cancer. However, exposure to large quantities of the chemicals present in the product may increase a person’s risk to bladder cancer, according to the findings of National Cancer Institute.

Meanwhile, others believe that antiperspirants have aluminum-based ingredients and parabens that can enter the body and lead to cancer. However, there are no substantial findings that support this belief. If you’re risk-averse and want to be on the safe side, you can just go for products that don’t contain the ingredients that make you concerned.

7. Relying too much on sunscreen to prevent skin cancer.

Sunscreen can help protect your skin from damages brought about the sun’s harmful rays, including skin cancer. However, relying on sunscreen alone is not enough to keep the condition at bay.

Applying sunscreen once a day is not enough. It needs to be reapplied throughout the day to keep your skin protected at all times. More so, sunscreen is not the only way to lessen your risk of skin cancer. You also need to limit your sun exposure, wear clothes that provide enough coverage, and wear protective accessories like hats and sun visors.

8. Household sprays can cause cancer.

Household use of sprays and insecticides has no association with cancer risk and doesn’t expose you and your family to high concentrations of chemicals. However, it’s still important to know the proper usage of these tools and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

9. Cellphone usage increases cancer risk.

Consumer electronics like cellphones may have some downsides, but cancer is not one of them.

Results of the best and most extensive studies didn’t point to cellphone use as a risk factor to cancer. Yes, cellphones emit radiation but it is low in frequency and don’t cause any damage to the DNA like ionizing radiation does.

10. Cancer doesn’t happen to good people.

A good disposition will surely help you get far in life, but it will not make you cancer-proof. Cancer is influenced by a lot of factors such as health habits, gene changes, and exposure to harmful substances.

A good mindset and attitude are essential in avoiding cancer or fighting the disease, but they will not make you invincible to cancer or any type of illness for that matter.

Cancer can be prevented, but if in case you or a loved one gets diagnosed with the disease, don’t lose hope right away. Thanks to technology, there are many treatments—both medical and alternative—that can help a patient cope and thrive while battling cancer. All you need to do is take a proactive approach as you learn more about the disease and clarify information before taking them as facts.

Which of These Myths Do You Believe?

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    • Adalyn Hayes profile image

      Adalyn Hayes 2 years ago from Albany, New York

      Thank Kristen.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great hub. It's so informative and useful to know the myths behind cancer and how you've debunked them. Well done!

    • Adalyn Hayes profile image

      Adalyn Hayes 2 years ago from Albany, New York

      Thanks Annsalo. I visited the page and saw that they already deleted it. :-)

    • Annsalo profile image

      Annsalo 2 years ago from Somewhere

      Just wanted to let you know I found you hub stolen and put at this address soon after you published it. The site is stealing lots of hubbers work. Feel free to delete this comment once you have linked to the webpage.

    • Adalyn Hayes profile image

      Adalyn Hayes 2 years ago from Albany, New York

      Thank you so much ChitrangadaSharan. :-)

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very informative and useful hub!

      I am sure it will help many who get carried away by others opinion. Nicely presented with clarity. Thanks for sharing this helpful information.

    • Adalyn Hayes profile image

      Adalyn Hayes 2 years ago from Albany, New York

      Thank you Helga. :-)

    • Helga Silva profile image

      Helga Silva 2 years ago from USA

      Very nice and detailed hub.