Common Myths about Cancer

There are many myths circulating among individuals about how cancer is caused and who will get it. Listed are myths about some of the most common cancers and the truth about those myths.

Breast Cancer Myths

1. Breast lumps are always cancerous.
Over 80% of breast lumps are not cancer. They may be cysts or fibrocystic changes in the breast. All lumps should be checked by a physician for diagnosis.

2. Only those with family histories of breast cancer will get the disease.
The majority of women, up to 85%, have no family history of breast cancer. Though there may be no family history, it is extremely important that women over the age of 40 have yearly mammograms.

3. Birth control pills cause breast cancer.
Though birth control pills contain estrogen, the amount is too small to cause be a cause of breast cancer.

Prostate Cancer Myths

1. Elderly men are the only ones affected by prostate cancer.
Though the majority of prostate cancer victims are older people, it is becoming more common for younger men to be diagnosed with the disease.

2. Vasectomies cause cancer.
There are many scientific studies that show there is no link to having a vasectomy and getting prostate cancer.

3. Though prostate cancer is common, few actually die from the disease.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men. Almost 30,000 men die each year from the disease.

Skin Cancer Myths

1. A sunburn does more damage to the skin that a suntan.
Any sun exposure that changes the color of the skin is bad. Both a sunburn and suntan are from UVA and UVB rays from the sun. These cause DNA changes within the skin, which is a precursor to skin cancer.

2. Skin cancer is not a concern when not in direct sun.
Clouds do not keep out the sun’s rays. 70% are still transmitted on overcast days. There is still a high chance of sun damage on cloudy days.

There are many lifestyle changes one can make to help lower the risk of getting cancer. Dietary changes such as eating more fruit and vegetables and less red meat are important. Fruits and vegetables can help repair damaged cells. Limiting alcohol intake and exercise are both good ways to prevent certain types of cancers from forming. Simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference in one’s chances of getting cancer.