10 Common Cancer Myths and Facts by Dr. Aditi Aggarwal

10 Common Cancer Myths and Facts by Dr. Aditi Aggarwal

03 February 2023
Posted By Dr. Aditi Aggarwal
10 Common Cancer Myths and Facts by Dr. Aditi Aggarwal

In today's information-driven era, it is crucial to discern truth from mere speculation, especially when it comes to a topic as sensitive and impactful as cancer. This journey will navigate through a myriad of prevalent misconceptions surrounding cancer, shedding light on the scientific evidence and dispelling long-standing myths.

MYTH 1: Cancer is contagious.

FACT: No, cancer is not contagious. Cancer is not a virus or an infection that can be spread from person to person like the common cold or flu. However, certain cancers are caused by viruses and bacteria that can be transmitted between individuals. Certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) have been associated to cervical, anal, and certain forms of head and neck tumors.

Cancer is caused by genetic mutations that can occur spontaneously or be caused by various factors such as exposure to carcinogens, lifestyle habits, or inherited genetic mutations. It is important to seek accurate information and seek medical advice if you have concerns about cancer.

MYTH 2: Cancer is a death sentence.

FACT: No, cancer is not necessarily a death sentence. Advances in diagnosis and treatment have made it possible for many people to live long, healthy lives after a cancer diagnosis. The outcome of a cancer diagnosis depends on many factors, including the type and stage of the cancer, the patient's overall health, and the effectiveness of the treatment.

As scientists gain insight of cancer and find more effective methods, recovery rates continue to rise.

In January 2019, an estimated 16.9 million cancer survivors from Reliable Sources were living in the United States. Over the past four decades, survival rates have doubled in the United Kingdom.

It is also important to note that survival rates vary greatly by cancer type. In the United Kingdom, testicular cancer survival rates are 98%, whereas pancreatic cancer survival rates are below 1%.

With early detection and appropriate treatment, many people are able to successfully manage their cancer and enjoy a good quality of life. It is important to seek medical advice and access evidence-based treatments if you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer.

MYTH 3: If you have a family history of cancer, you will get it too.

FACT: Having a family history of cancer can increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer, but it does not guarantee that you will get cancer. Inherited genetic mutations that increase the risk of cancer can run in families, but there are many other factors that also play a role in the development of cancer, including lifestyle habits, exposure to environmental toxins, and chance.

It is important to be aware of your family history and to discuss any concerns with your doctor, who can help you determine your level of risk and recommend steps to reduce that risk. Regular cancer screenings and lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption can also help lower the risk of cancer.


MYTH 4: Cancer thrives on sugar.

FACT: Cancer cells can consume sugar for energy, but there is no scientific evidence to suggest that consuming sugar directly causes cancer to grow. Cancer cells require a constant source of energy, which they obtain from the breakdown of glucose (a type of sugar) in the bloodstream.

However, it is important to note that a diet high in sugar and processed foods can contribute to weight gain, which is a risk factor for several types of cancer. Maintaining a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, and limiting sugar and processed foods, is an important step in reducing the risk of cancer and promoting overall health.

MYTH 5: Cancer treatment is usually worse than the disease.

FACT: Cancer treatment can be challenging and have side effects, but for many people, it can also be lifesaving. The goal of cancer treatment is to destroy or remove the cancer cells while minimizing harm to healthy cells. The type and severity of side effects depend on the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer, and the specific treatments used.

For some people, the side effects of treatment can be manageable and temporary, while others may experience more severe and long-lasting effects. However, it is important to remember that the severity of side effects also depends on the individual's overall health and response to treatment.

Overall, the benefits of cancer treatment often outweigh the risks and side effects. In many cases, cancer treatment can lead to a cure or long-term remission, and even when a cure is not possible, treatment can help control the cancer and improve the patient's quality of life. It is important to discuss the benefits and risks of different treatment options with your doctor to determine the best approach for your individual needs.

MYTH 6: My attitude affects my cancer.

FACT: Your attitude and outlook can have a significant impact on your well-being and quality of life during and after cancer treatment. Studies have shown that having a positive outlook and feeling supported by friends, family, and healthcare providers can improve physical, emotional, and psychological well-being, and lead to better treatment outcomes.

However, it is also important to note that a positive attitude alone is not a cure for cancer, and that the best approach to cancer treatment involves a combination of medical treatments, lifestyle changes, and support from loved ones and healthcare providers.

It is normal to experience a range of emotions during and after cancer treatment, and it is important to seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional if needed. Talking openly with your doctor about your concerns and feelings can also help you better manage your cancer experience and improve your overall well-being.

MYTH 7: Drug firms, government, and medical professionals are hiding a cancer cure.

FACT: There is no evidence to support the claim that a cure for cancer exists and is being deliberately hidden by drug companies, the government, or the medical establishment.

Cancer is a complex and heterogeneous group of diseases, and there is no single cure for all types of cancer. Advances in cancer research have led to the development of effective treatments for many types of cancer, including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. However, despite these advances, there is still much that is not known about the underlying biology of cancer and the best approaches to treating it.

MYTH 8: Deodorants cause breast cancer.

FACT: There is currently no scientific evidence to support the claim that deodorants cause breast cancer. Breast cancer is a complex disease caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, and there is no single cause of the disease.

Studies have been conducted to assess the potential link between the use of antiperspirants and deodorants and the development of breast cancer, but the results have been inconclusive. Some studies have found a potential link between the use of antiperspirants containing certain types of chemicals, such as aluminum, and an increased risk of breast cancer, while other studies have found no evidence of a link.

The evidence currently available does not provide clear evidence of a causative link between the use of deodorants and the development of breast cancer, and more research is needed to fully understand the potential effects of these products on human health.

It is important to be informed about the products you use and to take steps to reduce your risk of breast cancer, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting regular exercise, and seeking regular medical check-ups, but there is no need to avoid deodorants as a means of reducing your risk of breast cancer. If you have concerns about the safety of a specific product, you should talk to your doctor or a dermatologist.

MYTH 9: Artificial sweeteners cause cancer.

FACT: There is ongoing research on the potential link between artificial sweeteners and cancer, but the current evidence does not support the idea that artificial sweeteners cause cancer.

Artificial sweeteners are commonly used as a low-calorie or calorie-free alternative to sugar and are approved for use by regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), based on a large body of research showing that they are safe for consumption.

MYTH 10: Cell phones cause brain cancer.

FACT: There is ongoing research on the potential link between cell phone use and brain cancer, but the current evidence does not support the idea that cell phones cause brain cancer.

Cell phones emit low-level radiofrequency (RF) energy, a form of non-ionizing radiation, when in use. This type of radiation is different from the ionizing radiation emitted by X-rays and other medical imaging technologies, and it is generally considered to be safe for human exposure.

It is important to note that the majority of studies on this topic have been observational in nature, and more research is needed to fully understand the effects of cell phone use on human health. The World Health Organization (WHO) and other health organizations have conducted large-scale studies on this topic and have concluded that the available evidence does not support the idea that cell phones cause brain cancer.

BONUS: Can true enjoyable holidays reduce cancer risk?

FACT: While there is no direct evidence to suggest that travel and enjoyment can specifically reduce the risk of cancer, engaging in activities that promote overall well-being and a healthy lifestyle may contribute to a lower risk of certain diseases, including cancer. Travel and enjoyable experiences can positively impact mental health, reduce stress, and provide opportunities for physical activity, all of which are factors that may contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

From 2017-2021, cancer was the #1 cause of death in Singapore, accounting for 28.2% of all deaths. The Singaporean people travel more to get away from stress, they travel to Malaysia and go to Singapore cruises to relax and enjoy their days. Several studies have found that after that, many people experience stress relief and a healthier lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Dr. Aditi Aggarwal has worked in radiation oncology for ten years, treating patients with thoracic cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, bone and soft tissue cancer, gynecological cancer, breast cancer, and neurological cancers.

As a medical doctor, Dr. Aditi Aggarwal holds an MBBS degree from Lady Hardinge Medical College Delhi, a MD degree in radiation oncology from VMMC and Safdarjang Hospital Delhi, as well as a post-doctoral diploma in cancer research from Catalyst Clinical Sciences in Pune.

Cancer is usually classified into four stages, with stage 0 being the earliest stage and stage IV being the most advanced. The stage of a cancer is an important factor in determining the prognosis and the best treatment options. Here's a brief overview of the different stages of cancer:

Stage 0: This is the earliest stage of cancer, and it refers to cancer that is still in its original place and has not spread to other parts of the body. It is also known as carcinoma in situ.

Stage I: This stage means that the cancer is still small and has not spread to other parts of the body. It may be treatable with surgery or other local treatments.

Stage II: At this stage, the cancer is larger and may have spread to nearby lymph nodes. It may be treated with surgery and/or radiation therapy, or other systemic treatments such as chemotherapy.

Stage III: This stage means that the cancer has spread to nearby tissues or organs and/or to distant lymph nodes. Treatment may involve a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and/or systemic treatments such as chemotherapy.

Stage IV: This is the most advanced stage of cancer, and it means that the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs, bones, or brain. Treatment at this stage is typically palliative, meaning that it aims to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life, rather than cure the cancer.

It's important to note that the staging of cancer can vary between different types of cancer and different systems used to classify the stages. Your healthcare provider can give you more information specific to your situation.

There is no single vaccine that can prevent or cure all types of cancer. However, some vaccines can help prevent certain viral infections that can increase the risk of certain cancers, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which can help prevent HPV-related cancers such as cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancer.

Additionally, some cancers can be treated with a type of immunotherapy called cancer vaccines, which help stimulate the body's own immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. These vaccines are still in the experimental stage and are only available through clinical trials.

However, there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of developing cancer, such as eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco products, and getting regular cancer screenings. Your healthcare provider can give you more information on how to reduce your risk of cancer.

The symptoms of cancer can vary depending on the type and part of the body of cancer, as well as its stage. Some common symptoms of cancer include:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain that does not go away
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Skin changes, such as yellowing or darkening
  • Changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • Persistent coughing or trouble breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Persistent hoarseness or sore throat
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as bloating or abdominal pain
  • Menstrual changes in women
  • Persistent skin changes, such as yellowing or darkening
  • Changes in a wart or mole
  • Persistent headaches
  • Persistent bone or joint pain
  • Persistent fatigue or weakness
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting

It's important to keep in mind that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, and not all of them are present in all cases of cancer. If you are experiencing any symptoms that are new or persist for a long time, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider to determine the cause and get appropriate medical attention. Early detection and treatment of cancer can often lead to better outcomes.

Through us, you can schedule a Dr. Aditi Aggarwal priority appointment. Request a callback or dial 7982047515 to reach us.