5 Common Myths About Cancer That Continue to Confuse People

Bombarded with stories, messages, and discussions about cancer, many people find themselves living in fear of getting some form of it. Most of us have probably known someone who’s battled the disease.

Every time we are confronted with a strange pain, growth, or other symptom, it’s almost automatic to look it up and start self-diagnosing. Anxiety about what may be affecting the health of you or a loved one guarantees at least a few days of googling, conversations with friends, or conversations in your mind.

How many times have you asked yourself or your doctor if your habits or symptoms will give you cancer? “Will doing this cause me to get __ cancer?” It does not help that the internet is overflowing with misinformation.

To help you weed through the scariness, we’re listing some of most common myths people believe about cancer.

  1. Deodorants are Carcinogenic

    Many people believe that using deodorant or antiperspirant will lead to breast cancer. By putting it on the armpit, it’s believed that harmful, cancer-causing chemicals will leech into the skin and attack lymph nodes and breast tissue.

    The National Cancer Institute states that while scientific research shows a link between ingredients in deodorants and hormones like estrogen, no concrete evidence has been found on the relationship between aluminum or parabens and breast cancer.

  2. Underwire Bras Contribute to Breast Cancer

    Some women think that wearing underwire bras will constrict blood and waste flow. There’s a belief that toxins will build up in the body and lymph nodes, causing breast cancer. While uncomfortable, there is no evidence that supports the idea that underwire bras or corsets cause cancer.

  3. Sugar Feeds Cancer

    Eating sugar does not cause cancer to spread. Although studies show that cancer cells consume more sugar than other cells in the body, physicians are more concerned about sugar consumption and obesity. Obesity can lead to cancer. Your body’s cells need sugars to function, so cutting it out is not only hard, but it won’t stop or cause cancer to grow.

  4. Radiation from Devices Cause Cancer

    You’ve heard that cell phones and Wi-Fi signals can give you tumors, but scientists (and the American Cancer Society) maintain that ELF – extreme low frequency – radiation emitted from devices is not enough to damage DNA. Though more research is needed, so far studies have not found a link between cell phone use and brain tumors or any other cancer type.

  5. Cancer is Contagious

    When actor Michael Douglas stated that he got oral cancer from sex, panic ensued. Generally, cancer is NOT contagious. However, there are some cancers that can be caused by bacteria or viruses such as HPV.

While cancer statistics are enough to make anyone worry, it doesn’t help to get paranoid about each and everything that you do. There are certain activities and environmental factors that can increase your risk for certain cancers, but the American Cancer Society recommends these tips to mind your health:

  • Stop smoking or the use of tobacco products to lower your risk of lung or oral cancer.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you consume; it’s how much you drink that raises your risk.
  • Protect yourself from harmful UV rays and skin cancer by doing things like using sunscreen, avoiding tanning beds, and wearing protective clothing.
  • Eat nutritious whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of water.
  • Get regular screenings if you have a family history or a genetic mutation linked to cancer.

Have you been misinformed about cancer risks? What’s the biggest myth that you believed but found to be untrue? Do you live with constant anxiety about getting cancer?


National Cancer Institute

American Cancer Society