Cancer myths 1
Credit: Wikimedia

An Internet search shows millions of articles about how to prevent or conquer cancer, some of which are pure bunk or are misleading. This disease is actually a complex disease that is influenced by many factors such as genes, environment, lifestyle, and diet.  Here are some of the most common misconceptions about this illness.

Cancer is a modern, man-made disease
This disease is as old as mankind. Cancer Research UK reports that ancient Egyptian and Greek physicians described cancer thousands of years ago. It is true that lifestyle-related diseases such as this disease on the rise. Risk factors are higher because of poor diet, air pollution, genetics, and smoking. The biggest risk factor is age because the cells in our bodies experience DNA damage as we get older, making us more vulnerable to disease.

Superfoods prevent cancer
There really is no such thing as a "superfood." This description is a marketing term used to sell products. Many websites claim that eating foods such as beetroot, blueberries, garlic, broccoli, and green tea will prevent the disease. It is true that certain foods are more healthy than others, but cancer is a complex illness based on many factors. The best way to prevent this illness is to have a healthy lifestyle by being active, not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, and cutting back on alcohol.

Diets that are too high in acids cause cancer
One persistent misconception is that overly "acidic" diet can cause your blood to be too acidic and will increase your risk for cancer. The idea is that increasing the intake of healthier alkaline foods such as fruits and green vegetables will restore balance in the body. Biologically, the body tightly controls its pH level and it’s ph cannot be changed by diet. Excess acid or alkali elements in the body are eliminated. There is no good scientific evidence that diet can manipulate the body's pH or affect the risk of cancer.

Cancer likes sugar
A popular idea is that sugar feeds cancer cells, suggesting that it should be eliminated from a patient's diet. In reality, all cells use glucose as an energy source. Most of the carbs we eat our converted to sugars such as glucose, fructose, and other simple sugars which all cells access for energy. Cancer cells grow much faster than healthy cells and demand a lot of fuel. There is some scientific evidence that cancer cells use glucose and produce energy differently than healthy cells. Scientists are trying to understand these complex processes through extensive research.

Cancer is a fungus
Some people say that cancer is caused by a fungus candida infection and that tumors are the body's way of protecting itself. There is no scientific evidence that this is true.  Pathologists have confirmed that cancer cells are not fungal. Some people feel that sodium bicarbonate is a "cure." Some scientists are investigating possible uses of this substance such as treating cancer pain, but there is no evidence that sodium bicarbonate can treat fungal infections, let alone cancer. Large doses of sodium bicarbonate can be dangerous and even fatal.

There is a miracle cure
The Internet is overloaded with videos and personal stories about so-called natural and miraculous cures. These claims have not been scientifically proven by qualified researchers.

Pharmaceutical companies are suppressing information about natural cures
The theory is that pharmaceutical companies are trying to hide a natural cure for this disease because they make so much money out of current treatments. There is no evidence that this is true.

Treatment kills more than it cures
Treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are difficult to endure and have side effects, but they work for many people. Certain types of cancer such as bone cancer are not treatable and late-stage cancers that have spread through the body are difficult to treat. Treatment can ease symptoms and prolong a patient's life, but will not cure advanced cancers.

Concluding thoughts

A common characteristic of many of these myths is that the claims of preventing or curing cancer are not backed by scientific evidence from reliable sources.  Many also make extreme claims that sound too good to be true, and probably are. Cancer is such a complicated condition that is still not fully understood by medical professionals (though they are working on it).  There is every reason to hope that one day, researchers will find new ways or treat or prevent this terrible disease.