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Debunking Common Cancer Myths

The American Cancer Society found that many Americans believe many common myths about cancer including cell phones and previous injuries causing cancer.

An ad for cancer treatment in the East End of London

Photo: Danny McL (Flickr)

An ad for cancer treatment in the East End of London

Chances are you have heard one, if not all of the following statements:

1. Cell phones can cause brain cancer.
2. People in polluted cities are more likely to get lung cancer than people who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day.
3. Some injuries can cause cancer later in life.
4. The risk of dying from cancer in the United States is increasing.

As it turns out, all of these statements are false. Surprised? Well, you’re not alone. A study published by the American Cancer Society found that many Americans believe these common myths about cancer.

Nearly 30% of those surveyed believed that the risk of dying from cancer is increasing in the US. The truth is that the number of cancer-related deaths per year has been steadily declining since the early ’90′s.

There’s no evidence that cell phones cause cancer. Falls, bruises, bone fractures, and other such injuries don’t either. Occasionally, when a patient visits the doctor for treatment of an injury cancer is discovered, but the cancer was already there, having no relation to the injury.

Finally, cigarette smoke is by far the biggest cause of lung cancer. Exposure to tobacco smoke, including second-hand smoke, is thought to be responsible for over 80% of lung cancer deaths each year. City smog cannot compare.

Being misinformed about cancer might lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices or even keep people from seeking preventive or life-saving medical treatments. We all need to stay informed and get the facts from reliable sources, like your doctor, or even “A Moment of Science.”

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