Busted: Top cures and causes of cancer exposed

There are many old wives tales and myths surrounding cancer prevention and causes, some which are clearly ridiculous but some just credible enough to confuse people – and possibly put them at risk.

The Australian Cancer Council created a website Iheard.com.au to draw out the myths surrounding cancer prevention and treatment and have revealed the top 10 most commonly asked questions from the past year.

Evidence surrounding smoking, sun exposure, obesity and being overweight, physical inactivity, poor nutrition and alcohol consumption are all risk factors for cancers. The Cancer Council has urged people to seek reliable information on the disease that is supported by evidence or medically approved by their doctor.

Here are the Top 10 cancer myths, as determined by the Cancer Council:

MYTH: Laser hair removal causes cancer

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The Cancer Council has said that there is no scientific or medical based evidence to show that laser hair removal can cause cancer.

MYTH: A laptop computer used on your lap can cause cancer

Although the current scientific evidence has shown that there is no correlation between using a laptop computer and cancer, one theory has shown that men are at greater risk of developing testicular cancer because of the heat near their crotch area.

MYTH: Drinking water from a plastic bottle causes cancer

This is one of the most well known and believed myths out of the ten revealed by the Cancer Council. They said: “Emails claim that heating, freezing or reusing plastic water bottles releases chemicals from the plastics that could cause cancer, including dioxins. However, the plastic in water bottles contains no dioxins at all.”

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MYTH: Drinking coffee can cause cancer

There is no solid evidence to support coffee to cause cancer. Professionals have assured the public that modern methods of coffee production in Australia no longer contains solvents that are related to coffee production and there are no risks involved with drinking, aside from a caffeinated buzz.

MYTH: Halogen light-bulbs can cause skin cancer

Cancer causing halogen lights is a myth that was busted with solid evidence to back them.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency conducted a study into a range of light bulbs and found that, although emitting some ultra-violet radiation, none of the halogen lights tested even at a distance of 10 cm were hazardous to our health. 

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MYTH: Root canal treatment causes cancer

No credible evidence that a root canal causes cancer has been found.

This theory has been debunked several times with modern research and in fact not treating a decaying tooth can lead to gastrointestinal cancers from bacteria growing in the untouched tooth.

MYTH: UV light used in shellac nail manicures can cause cancer

Overexposure to UV radiation from sunbeds (solariums) have been known to increase the risk of cancer.

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As for nail lamps that use UV radiation, concerns expressed about their potential to increase the risk of skin cancer cannot be disproved or claimed to be true.

The cancer council has said: ‘Unfortunately, not enough research exists to prove or disprove the claim.’

MYTH: The Gumbi Gumbi a rare native Australian Tree can effectively treat cancer

The plant has been popularly believed to help with curing cancer, but no evidence has been presented to support these views.

MYTH: Black Slave (Red Slave, Cansema, Blood–Root) is a good cure for skin cancer

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Black salve is a fake cancer treatment. There is no evidence that it works and it can cause serious side effects such as burning and destroying large areas of skin, often leaving scarring.

MYTH: Eating Apricot kernels can cure cancer

Amygdalin or Laetrile are the compounds that have been said to create the miracle cure. 

Despite being untrue, eating large amounts of the seed is ineffective and can cause death by cyanide poisoning.

If you have any questions about your health or cancer you should see your family doctor or a qualified health professional.

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Have you heard any of these false claims before? Have you heard any myths that aren’t on this list?