Answers To 6 Myths About Cancer

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With the constant flow of information about things that might cause cancer, you almost begin to wonder if just about everything does.

Cancer cells randomly multiply inside the human body. Researchers have no simple answer for why it happens, but they are constantly confused by one study after another citing things in our daily lives that may be putting us at a greater risk for cancer.

“By the time we have definitive human evidence on many of these cancer myths, we will all be gone. The reality is that cancer takes 10, 20, 30 or even 40 years to develop in the human population,” Environmental Cancer Expert Dr. Devra Davis said.

Gail Seig’s daughters were only 5 and 9-years-old, when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She survived a second bout a few years ago.

“I decided that I would do everything I could to boost by own body’s defense mechanisms,” Seig said.

That meant an organic diet, exercise and a positive mental outlook. She avoids using chemicals in her home and garden and does not own a microwave.

“Those were the things I could control. So I did,” Seig said.

Cancer Myth No. 1 – Microwaving in plastic containers releases cancer-causing chemicals into food.

Dr. Davis said this is a fact, but what about the containers that are marked as “microwave safe?”

“It means the plastic won’t melt. It does not mean the plastic won’t absorb some contaminants into your food,” Dr. Davis said.

Cancer Myth No. 2 – Antiperspirants or deodorants containing aluminum ingredients can be absorbed through the skin, increasing a risk of breast cancer.

“We frankly don’t have the data, but we have some reasons for concerns. So again, if you can find something that’s a substitute that works for you, that’s a good idea,” Dr. Davis said.

Cancer Myth No. 3 – Grilling meats has been shown to cause cancer in animals, but the jury is still out.

“You don’t want to have a lot of grilled meat. The National Cancer Institute itself has acknowledged that,” Dr. Davis said.

Cancer Myth No. 4 – Hair dye absorbed into the scalp may be a carcinogen.

In 1980, certain chemicals were removed from hair dyes because of those concerns.

Jackie Kennedy’s death was even rumored to be related to her use of hair dye.

“There have been a number of studies that have found that dark hair dye does increase the risk of breast cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is what killed Mrs. Kennedy,” Dr. Davis said.

Cancer Myth No. 5 – Coffee sweeteners.

In 1969, the Food and Drug Administration banned cyclamates as a sweetener, but what about saccharine and aspartame?

“Animals exposed to aspartame, NutraSweet, one of the world’s most widely used sweeteners, develop an increased risk of cancer,” Dr. Davis said.

Cancer Myth No. 6 – Cell phone use may cause cancer.

“Cell phones have revolutionized our lives, much for the better. But, there are simple things that we have to do to use them in a safer way,” Dr. Davis said.

Dr. Davis is most concerned about cell phone use by adolescents and young children.

“Use a speakerphone, use a headset, don’t keep the phone next to your body,” Dr. Davis said.

The bottom line is that research on many potential cancer causing factors is far from definitive.

For more information about Dr. Davis and the Environmental Health Trust, you can visit their website here.

  • William Campbell

    Doesn’t really ANSWER anything here.

    • dad

      stop it

    • RenJH

      Devra answers ALL of these things very clearly in her books Disconnect and the Secret War of the History on Cancer. I’m not plugging her books because of any other reason OTHER THAN they offer AMAZING insight and information. …but like she says when she speaks: It took TOO many years for people to realize asbestos and tobacco were leading cancer causing agents……! I surely don’t want to be a test-pig for ANY of the above mentioned things… I practice life in moderation and make healthy choices on a daily basis for myself and my family. If everyone else wants to test themselves and their families to see if they can develop cancer from cell phones against their heads or heating up plastics in the microwave……then I will read the reports in 40 years (or in 5) and know that being PROactive suited me best. …..and if it all turns out to be a farce, then I will STILL Know that I made healthy choices and will have nothing to regret. :)

  • Rew07

    Agree, as a cancer doctor I am disappointed to see that Dr Davis’ comments only serve to further perpetuate the myths.

    • smitty1

      rew07: if you’re the real doictor, why don’t you step up to the plate and dispel the myths? a doctor’s opinion about another doctor’s “bad” opinions w/o giving any opinions of their own, is even more worthless.

  • len w

    I belive that an anwser is very close, this condition will be solved just as so so many afflictions that attackced human kind thruout history. the real answer is out there for all things manmade or natural starts here.

  • dre

    the term “myth” is defined as “an imaginary or fictitious thing or person” so why is the story titled and further using this term when the doctor is saying they are all true?

    • LLW

      I totally agree w/ your comment…………the word MYTH was certainly misused and misleading!

  • hdbro

    should have included some great info from dr oz / dr roizen regarding the myth that most cancers are due to genetics … believe it is over 80% of cancer causes are life choices (diet, exercise, lifestyle, etc …)

    • RenJH

      I read a study where adopted children were JUST AS likely to have the same cancers as their adoptive parents who make bad choices in lifestyle as genetic children from their birthing parents…….which goes to say…….environmental choices, food choices and exercise (or lack there of) are BIG factors in cancer. ….OUTSIDE impacts…….. very interesting

      I think these ‘myths’ are questions that get tossed around a LOT in cancer-causing conversations……and so I believe Devra was trying to answer those without completely putting her neck on the line. ….But if you READ HER BOOKS, she answers these questions pretty clearly…….

  • Lori

    Were there studies done on specific groups of people who dyed their hair black, put plastic containers in a microwave, grill meats and where anitperspirant? This story was not informative enough. It makes me personally feel like I’m going to end up with cancer anyway, so I might as well live it up!

    • RenJH

      The healthier choices you make, the better you feel…..that’s the bottom line I believe. So if leaching plastic into your foods in the microwave makes you feel good, then why not, right??? I read a study on antiperspirants and women…..and what this particular study said was that women who applied it right after shaving their pits in the shower had higher cases of cancer BECAUSE your body was absorbing it more readily……and your breast tissue was more directly impacted. ……and if you don’t sweat that much, maybe just use an organic-type or deoderant instead…….since its the antiperspirant that seems to be the cause for concern. …and as far as grilling meats go: when you burn ANYTHING, it causes carcinogens of much higher levels……etc. Red meats in particular. ….so what it really comes down to is: don’t scorch your foods……..and maybe perfect your grilling techniques a bit! :) ….EVERYTHING (minus crack, etc) in MODERATION………..its key. :)

  • alicep

    I’m in agreement with hdbro – comments above. Limiting exposure to anything that’s unnatural, i.e., chemical hair dyes, microwaving food, pesticides on food, burned meat, only stands to reason that you can drastically reduce the chances of getting cancer. We can also include birth control pills and over the counter cosmetics which some studies have shown, are also linked to breast cancer.

  • Diana

    About cancer myth #1 You did not mention the plastic containers that all microwave containers come in when you buy the product at the store. Are they safe or should they be transfered to a glass container?

    • LLW

      What about the heavier Tupperware designed for the microwave?

    • RenJH

      They should ABSOLUTELY be put on/in ceramic or in a glass container if you are using a microwave. …I mean…..think about it…..’microwave safe’ or not, it is STILL plastic……and when plastic warms up, it can leach out…..doesn’t matter HOW thick it is. ….and why would you chance it anyway….its not that hard to xfer into glass! :) ….and if you are defrosting something you made from the freezer, and you put it into glass dishes, you can even just pop it into the oven BEFORE you pre-heat with some foil on top……and whallah! :) I love doing that with lasagna!

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