PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - With the constant flow of information about things that might cause cancer, you almost begin to wonder if just about everything does.
Cancer cells randomly multiply inside the human body. Researchers have no simple answer for why it happens, but they are constantly confused by one study after another citing things in our daily lives that may be putting us at a greater risk for cancer.
"By the time we have definitive human evidence on many of these cancer myths, we will all be gone. The reality is that cancer takes 10, 20, 30 or even 40 years to develop in the human population," Environmental Cancer Expert Dr. Devra Davis said.
Gail Seig's daughters were only 5 and 9-years-old, when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She survived a second bout a few years ago.
"I decided that I would do everything I could to boost by own body's defense mechanisms," Seig said.
That meant an organic diet, exercise and a positive mental outlook. She avoids using chemicals in her home and garden and does not own a microwave.
"Those were the things I could control. So I did," Seig said.
Cancer Myth No. 1 – Microwaving in plastic containers releases cancer-causing chemicals into food.
Dr. Davis said this is a fact, but what about the containers that are marked as "microwave safe?"
"It means the plastic won't melt. It does not mean the plastic won't absorb some contaminants into your food," Dr. Davis said.
Cancer Myth No. 2 – Antiperspirants or deodorants containing aluminum ingredients can be absorbed through the skin, increasing a risk of breast cancer.
"We frankly don't have the data, but we have some reasons for concerns. So again, if you can find something that's a substitute that works for you, that's a good idea," Dr. Davis said.
Cancer Myth No. 3 – Grilling meats has been shown to cause cancer in animals, but the jury is still out.
"You don't want to have a lot of grilled meat. The National Cancer Institute itself has acknowledged that," Dr. Davis said.
Cancer Myth No. 4 – Hair dye absorbed into the scalp may be a carcinogen.
In 1980, certain chemicals were removed from hair dyes because of those concerns.
Jackie Kennedy's death was even rumored to be related to her use of hair dye.
"There have been a number of studies that have found that dark hair dye does increase the risk of breast cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which is what killed Mrs. Kennedy," Dr. Davis said.
Cancer Myth No. 5 – Coffee sweeteners.
In 1969, the Food and Drug Administration banned cyclamates as a sweetener, but what about saccharine and aspartame?
"Animals exposed to aspartame, NutraSweet, one of the world's most widely used sweeteners, develop an increased risk of cancer," Dr. Davis said.
Cancer Myth No. 6 – Cell phone use may cause cancer.
"Cell phones have revolutionized our lives, much for the better. But, there are simple things that we have to do to use them in a safer way," Dr. Davis said.
Dr. Davis is most concerned about cell phone use by adolescents and young children.
"Use a speakerphone, use a headset, don't keep the phone next to your body," Dr. Davis said.
The bottom line is that research on many potential cancer causing factors is far from definitive.
For more information about Dr. Davis and the Environmental Health Trust, you can visit their website here.
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