Busting Cancer Myths

The internet and social media are wonderful modern-day inventions. They are great sources of information – when used correctly, they can enrich the lives of the people who use them.

Unfortunately, they are also rife with misinformation, lies, and cancer myths that is not helpful to anyone.

Before Facebook, Twitter and Instagram took the blame for spreading cancer myths, families and friends sat around the dinner table sharing their ideas about its causes and cures.

Today we hope to bust a few of these myths.


Myth number 1: Getting a biopsy will spread the cancer

Based on flawed studies, the myth that a biopsy may cause your cancer to spread is an oldie. Unfortunately, it’s still believed by many. Recent studies in the US and Europe proved once and for all that having a biopsy will not cause your cancer to spread. Biopsies are a very important part of the diagnostic and treatment process for cancer.


Myth number 2: Eating sugar will make my cancer worse

All cells rely on blood sugar for their energy, but feeding a cancer cell more sugar won’t let it grow faster. Depriving the cell from sugar won’t slow the growth either. If blood sugar is low, the body will work very hard to increase that blood sugar back up so that normal cells can feed off it. The body can turn protein and complex carbohydrates into sugar for this purpose, so it is impossible to truly starve the body of sugar.

That being said, consuming a lot of sugar can cause other health related issues, and those issues may contribute to a higher risk of cancer. So, a healthy diet is best for all. This means eating lots of vegetables, whole grains, some fruit and lean protein. If you are at risk of losing weight, or have already lost weight, then a high calorie and high protein diet may be suggested to help with your weight and muscle mass.


Myth number 3: I have cancer, I will die

Being told you have cancer may possibly be the worst news anyone can hear, but it does not necessarily mean your time is up. Cancer treatments have improved drastically over the years. Doctors are catching it quicker, treating it better, and seeing a greater survival rate than ever before.

At current, over two thirds of all cancer patients survive for five or more years. In many cases, people don’t see their cancer returning once treated.


Myth number 4: Mobile phones cause cancer

Before we even consider the likelihood of mobile phones causing cancer, we need to remind ourselves as to what the main cause of cancer is. Cancer is caused by a change to your DNA within the cells. Once this gene becomes mutated, only then can it become cancerous.

Cell phones only emit low-frequency energy, and not enough to impact or change your genes. Many studies have looked into the effect of mobile phones, and none have found a link between mobile phone use and cancer.


Myth number 5: Power lines can cause cancer

Power lines do emit electric and magnetic energy. However, it’s normally at such a low frequency that it cannot affect your genes.

Many studies have looked at the impact of power lines in suburban areas. To date, no research shows a direct connection between living in a close proximity to power lines and getting cancer.


Myth number 6: Alternative medicine can cure cancer

There is some proof that alternative or complementary treatments, when used in conjunction with traditional methods, can be helpful in the treatment of cancer. However, there is little to no evidence that shows these natural remedies reliably treat cancer on their own.

In fact, some may even pose more harm than good. It’s important to talk to your oncologist about any therapies you are thinking about using during your treatment.


Myth number 7: If cancer is in my family, I will get it too… and vice versa

Less than 10% of cancers are inherited, and an inherited predisposition to cancer in the family does not necessarily mean that everyone in the family will get cancer.

Some cancers develop due to environmental and lifestyle factors. As families tend to live in similar locations and eat similar diets, they may be influenced by the same environmental factors which can lead to developing cancer.


Myth number 8: A lump in your breast is breast cancer

Most lumps found in breasts are benign, but that does not mean you should take them for granted. Any lump has the potential to be cancer, whether it’s hard, smooth, or sinewy.

Some breast cancers won’t even manifest themselves as lumps at all, highlighting the need for regular check-ups and annual mammograms, where required.


Myth number 9: Using hair dye can cause cancer

Most beauty products undergo very stringent tests to ensure they are safe for everyday use. Generally speaking, hair dye and other similar products won’t cause you to develop cancer.


Myth number 10: My oncologist doesn’t want me to try natural products to treat my cancer

Many cancer patients believe their oncologist wouldn’t let them try natural remedies to treat their cancer.

In most cases, your oncologist will be happy that you are exploring ways to treat your cancer. What they will ask is that your natural therapies don’t replace the chemotherapy and other standard treatment plans they have set out for you.

It is important to discuss any natural products you are taking with your doctor, as some may be harmful if taken during chemotherapy or radiation. They may increase the side effects, or even stop the other cancer treatments from working properly. There is some good evidence about the impact and safety of certain complementary therapies on cancer treatments. However, for many of these alternative or complementary treatments there is just no evidence of safety or harm.

If you have any questions or concerns, we recommend that you see you GP as soon as possible and ask for a referral to Hunter Valley Oncology. Our doctors are able to separate fact from fiction and give you the information you need to know.