In the “connected” world in which we live today, online information abounds. The problem is that not everything that is posted online is true, and this can lead to a lot of dis-information and even panic. It therefore behooves one to ensure that any information one reads comes from a trustworthy source.

Last week we posted about some things that, according to the experts, do cause cancer – this week we are smashing some myths about things that are purported to cause cancer but probably do not…

Antiperspirants

Because antiperspirants and deodorants are applied near the breast and contain potentially harmful ingredients (e.g. aluminium-based compounds), some research has suggested that there is a link between them and breast cancer.

While some studies focused on the relation between aluminium-based compounds and breast cancer, others shifted their attention to parabens (preservatives found in those products) as they are thought to mimic the activity of oestrogen, which is known to increase the risk of breast cancer.

Because antiperspirants and deodorants are applied near the breast and contain potentially harmful ingredients (e.g. aluminium-based compounds), some research has suggested that there is a link between them and breast cancer.

While some studies focused on the relation between aluminium-based compounds and breast cancer, others shifted their attention to parabens (preservatives found in those products) as they are thought to mimic the activity of oestrogen, which is known to increase the risk of breast cancer.

It has been reported that parabens are found in breast tumors, but there is no evidence that they cause breast cancer.

According to National Institutes of Health: Because studies of antiperspirants and deodorants and breast cancer have provided conflicting results, additional research would be needed to determine whether a relationship exists.

Artificial Sweeteners

These sugar substitutes were once thought to cause cancer after early studies during the 1970s showed that the combination of two sweeteners (cyclamate and saccharin) was linked to bladder cancer in laboratory rats.

Further studies concluded that while there is evidence to link high-dose artificial sweetener use with cancer in animals, there is no evidence to support such a link in humans.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), there is insufficient evidence to conclude that cyclamates cause cancer in either humans or animals.

Cellular Phones

Many concerns have been raised about whether cell phones cause brain tumours because they are usually held near the head; as a result, several studies have been conducted.

Lab studies have determined that cell phone radiofrequency (RF) waves don’t have enough energy to directly damage DNA or to heat body tissues. Most studies done in humans, with important limitations, have found no link between cell phone use and the development of tumours.

Cancer Research UK: So far, the best scientific evidence shows that using mobile phones does not increase the risk of cancer. There also aren’t any good explanations for how mobile phones could cause cancer. The radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation that mobile phones or phone masts transmit and receive is non-ionising and is very weak. This non-ionising radiation does not have enough energy to damage DNA and cannot directly cause cancer.

Mayo Clinic: For now, no one knows if cellphones are capable of causing cancer. Although long-term studies are ongoing, to date there’s no convincing evidence that cellphone use increases the risk of cancer.

National Cancer Institute (NCI): “Studies thus far have not shown a consistent link between cell phone use and cancers of the brain, nerves, or other tissues of the head or neck. More research is needed because cell phone technology and how people use cell phones have been changing rapidly.”

Water Fluoridation

For decades, there have been reservations about the health effects of drinking water containing fluoride, which is often added to reduce tooth decay.

Many studies have looked for a link between water fluoride levels and cancer, especially the bone cancer osteosarcoma. Such concerns stemmed from a 1990 study that found that male rats that were given water high in fluoride had an increased number of bone tumours.

American Cancer Society (ACS) : Most of the 50-plus population studies exploring the possibility of a link between water fluoride levels and cancer have failed to find a strong connection, according to the ACS. The topic is inherently difficult to study, the ACS notes.

Cancer Council Western Australia Fluoridation is considered by many to be a major public health achievement of the 20th century. The addition of fluoride to drinking water has led to a significant reduction in dental cavities. There is no consistent evidence that fluoride in drinking water increases the risk of cancer. The weight of the current evidence supports the view that there is no link between water fluoridation and osteosarcoma.

Bras

Although there have been several claims that bras, particularly underwire bras, cause breast cancer by obstructing lymph flow, most experts say no substantial scientific or clinical proof backs such claims.

While wearing a bra may not cause cancer, researchers are studying whether breast size is a potential risk factor.

American Cancer Society: Internet and e-mail rumors and at least one book have suggested that bras cause breast cancer by obstructing lymph flow. There is no good scientific or clinical basis for this claim, and a 2014 study of more than 1,500 women found no association between wearing a bra and breast cancer risk.

Breastcancer.org : Underwire bras do not cause breast cancer. Only one scientific study has looked at the link between wearing a bra and breast cancer. There was no real difference in risk between women who wore a bra and women who didn’t wear a bra.

Breast Cancer Network Australia: Cancer Australia, Australia’s leading national cancer control agency, states that research does not support the claim that underwire or tight-fitting bras increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

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