Seven Cancer Lies You Should Not Believe

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2013-05-22 11:35

Health hoaxes have been around forever, but they seem much more prevalent now that we can get information instantly through email and social media. Thousands of false messages are sent daily by well-meaning people that want to help friends and family live a healthful life. But remember, not everything you read on the internet is true. Johns Hopkins University and other experts dispel some of the most common cancer hoaxes being spread today.

A 2005 American Cancer Society survey found that many Americans believe cancer myths. For example, half of American adults mistakenly believe that surgery can spread cancer and more than one if four believes that a cure for cancer already exists but is being held back by a profit-driven industry.

"These results indicate that public and patient education interventions are most urgently needed in cancer centers, medical practices, and other community organizations that serve large numbers of patients,” write the authors in the study that appeared in the journal CANCER.

Johns Hopkins in particular has been cited as the source of many of these hoaxes. The originator probably thought that crediting an esteemed University and medical program would give the message more credence. Again, this is a common practice. For example, many years ago a typed diet called the “Mayo Clinic” diet circulated among Americans although it was never written by or approved by a Mayo Clinic expert. (Today, there is actually an approved Mayo Clinic diet very different from the one written so many years ago.)

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health warns internet users that if they see information labeled as “Cancer Update from John Hopkins” (note the misspelling of the name), that the tip that follows is likely bogus.

Hoax #1: Everyone Has Cancer Cells
Cancer is a genetic disease resulting from a variety of mutations and alterations in our cells. These can either be inherited from our parents or acquired over time due to environmental exposures and behaviors such as smoking and poor diet. Among the trillions of cells in the human body, inevitably some will be abnormal or atypical – but that does not mean they are cancerous, says Luis Diaz, a clinician with the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics.

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