By Dr. Saurabh Gupta, Oncology
Cancer, or the big C, is always in the news. Use any keyword related to cancer, and there is definitely information overload. Also, with more people surviving cancer, there are too many tales to tell. All this leads to misconceptions and myths, leaving people, who are looking for genuine information, completely confused.
The following are some common misconceptions:
- Cancer is a new-age disease: There is reference to cancer in ancient Egyptian and Greek stories, so cancer is definitely not new. However, it is true that the incidence has increased tremendously with the modern lifestyle habits.
- Food items prevent cancer: There are claims that food items like kale, blueberries, green tea, broccoli, etc., can prevent cancer. It is not true. They do have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but are not helpful in preventing cancer.
- Acidic diet causes cancer: The body’s pH is not determined by the food products that we consume. Neither acidic nor alkaline environment is healthy, and further, the body has its own mechanism to regulate pH; so go ahead and eat what you like.
- Sugars cause cancer: Sugar, believed to be the main energy source, is required for growth. Since cancer is linked to uncontrolled growth, it is believed that more sugar leads to more cancer. This again is a false notion, as there is no connection between the two.
- Screening is only for breast cancer: Agreed, breast cancer is easy to screen for, but any person with predisposition can go for periodic screening to help in early identification and intervention.
- Cancer medicines kill more than they cure: Whether it is chemotherapy or radiation, they do not pick only the cancer cells. When directed at a body part, the radiation affects the entire area. Chemotherapy targets and controls growth of a lot of normal processes, thereby affecting normal life.
- There is no cure for cancer: It is not a simple process. Curing cancer involves multiple facets – some of which may not be known or unearthed. While there are some stories, which talk about how they conquered cancer completely, there are a greater number of failures. Do not conclude on either side. Each person and each type of cancer is treated differently.
- Tight undergarments are not connected to cancer: As popularly advertised, tight underwear and underwired bras do not cause testicular or breast cancer.
- Biopsies spread cancer: This is a misconception. Most people are scared to get a biopsy as they perceive that it may spread the cancerous cells to normal areas.
This is just a short list, and there are far too many false notions. Check with your doctor to validate the information before using it to take any decision.