reviewed 8/14/2018

Cancer prevention: Myth or fact?

Nearly 1 out of every 4 deaths in the U.S. is caused by cancer, making it the 2nd leading cause of death. That's why it's important to learn what does—and what doesn't—help protect you from cancer. How much do you know about cancer prevention?

Myth or fact: Organic produce is more protective against cancer than regularly grown produce.

Myth. There's no good scientific evidence that eating organic fruits and vegetables provides greater protection against cancer than eating conventionally grown produce. However, you can reduce your risk for several kinds of cancers by eating a wide variety of plant-based foods.

Myth or fact: You can lower your risk for cancer by keeping yourself at a healthy weight.

Fact. Excess body fat increases your cancer risk. Studies have suggested that being overweight and obese are linked to a higher risk for at least 13 different types of cancer. It's been estimated that 320 cases of cancer in the U.S. could be prevented every day if everybody was at a healthy weight.

Myth or fact: You're less likely to get cancer if you take a daily multivitamin.

Myth. There is no good scientific evidence that supports this idea. Researchers are currently investigating whether certain vitamins—like vitamin D—could help prevent cancer. However, at least 1 vitamin—vitamin E—may increase the risk of prostate cancer when taken alone.

Myth or fact: Eating sugar does not cause cancer to get worse.

Fact. No studies have found that eating sugar will make cancer worse. There also is no evidence that adopting a sugarless diet will make cancer go away. However, eating a lot of sugar can cause you to become overweight—and that may increase your cancer risk.

Myth or fact: You should avoid wearing antiperspirants because they've been linked to breast cancer.

Myth. While there are concerns that aluminum and parabens in antiperspirants and deodorants may be absorbed by the skin and contribute to breast cancer, no studies have demonstrated a conclusive link.

Myth or fact: Vaccines can help protect you against cancer.

Fact. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps prevent cervical cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine can help reduce your risk for liver cancer.

Staying current with recommended screening tests is another good way you can help protect yourself against cancer. Ask your doctor what screenings you might be due for.

Learn more about cancer prevention

Sources: American Cancer Society; American Institute for Cancer Research; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Cancer Institute

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