Oct 28, 2014 2:00 PM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

From eating sugar to talking on cellphones to wearing deodorant—for years people blamed these things for causing cancer. But what’s really to blame?

“Tobacco, poor diet, exercise habits, certain infections and UV exposure are among the leading causes of cancer,” says Jeff Yancey, PhD, a manager of the Cancer Learning Center at University of Utah Health’s Huntsman Cancer Institute. “Oftentimes, cancer myths distract from behaviors that really put us at risk. Many people will not drink from a plastic bottle for fear of cancer, but will spend 20 minutes on a tanning bed.”

Here, he sheds light on some of the top myths. 

cancer myths cancer prevention

4 Common Cancer Myths

Myth: Sugar or artificial sweeteners cause cancer.

Truth: "No studies have shown that eating sugar causes cancer or makes cancer worse, although we don't know much about artificial sweeteners," Yancey says. Eating too much sugar can, however, lead to obesity, which research has linked to some types of cancer.

Myth: Wearing deodorant increases risk for breast cancer.

Truth: Researchers at the National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health have found no evidence linking antiperspirants or deodorants to breast cancer.

Myth: Cellphones emit radiofrequencies that cause cancer.

Truth: The radiofrequency emitted through cellphones is low, and most studies agree that using a cellphone does not increase risk for cancer.

Myth: Drinking from plastic bottles exposed to heat can cause cancer.

Truth: Most single-use bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which has been tested and is safe to use. Most studies agree that drinking from plastic bottles does not cause cancer.

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