Advertisement

Mistaken Worries About Cancer Risks

Mistaken Worries About Cancer Risks

In Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, Sterling Hayden played an insane general determined to trigger a nuclear war. (Peter Sellers had three roles, including the nefarious doctor.) Back then, the only thing people were more frightened of than a nuclear exchange was cancer—and cancer phobia was widespread. Then Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking environmental expose, Silent Spring, reinforced that fear, declaring we were “living in a sea of carcinogens.”

We’ve since learned to effectively treat and even cure many cancers, and people today are more comfortable talking about a diagnosis. But you may still worry there’s not much you can do about the cancer-causing carcinogens that flow in and around your everyday life. More recently, UK researchers surveyed 1,330 people and found more than 40 percent thought some of the biggest cancer-causing culprits were food additives, electromagnetic frequencies (cell phones), GM food and drinking from plastic bottles.

But that’s not the case: The study in the European Journal of Cancer identifies the most significant cancer-menacing risks as smoking, being overweight and overexposure to UV radiation from the sun and sunbeds. Fortunately, you can control your risks by avoiding second-hand smoke or smoke altogether, eating healthfully, exercising regularly, applying zinc oxide daily—and never-ever using a tanning bed.

You can reduce other risks of cancer by:

  • Avoiding receipts (common source of BPA or BPS) and washing hands after touching them.
  • Not using shampoos, fragrances and cosmetics containing phthalates dibutyl phthalate (DBP), dimethyl phthalate (DMP) and diethyl phthalate (DEP).
  • Thoroughly cleaning the Dirty Dozen (see www.ewg.org) pesticide-residue-containing veggies and fruits or go organic to get your 7-9 daily servings.

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

The Diet Defense Against Cancer
The Diet Defense Against Cancer
A good defense is essential when it comes to your health, and a new study published in JNCI Cancer Spectrum lays out just what you can do to defend yo...
Read More
What is the role of autoantibodies in cancer?
David A. Fishman, MDDavid A. Fishman, MD
The immune system has been shown to play a role in cancer with the existence of autoantibodies t...
More Answers
Cancer-Friendly Diet Tips
Cancer-Friendly Diet TipsCancer-Friendly Diet TipsCancer-Friendly Diet TipsCancer-Friendly Diet Tips
Learn why the foods you eat could help you recover faster. 
Start Slideshow
How Do You Decide Whether to Do Robotic or Open Surgery to Treat Cancer?
How Do You Decide Whether to Do Robotic or Open Surgery to Treat Cancer?