5 Things You Might Have Heard Cause Cancer, But Don't

Cancer is a topic that makes most people cringe. Most of us are afraid of getting cancer, and almost everyone knows someone who has had cancer or died from cancer. Fewer people die from cancer today, but cancer is still a major health and long-term care concern.

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5 Things You Might Have Heard Cause Cancer, But Don't
5 Min Read June 30th, 2015 Updated:February 6th, 2024

In a world where it often feels like "everything causes cancer," it's essential to distinguish between genuine cancer risks and the myths that have sprung up due to the widespread prevalence of this disease. While it's true that many people are affected by cancer, not everything we encounter in our daily lives poses a significant cancer risk. 


Understanding the difference between credible concerns and misconceptions is crucial for making informed choices about our health and well-being. In this article, we'll explore five examples of potential cancer risks that may not be as clear-cut as they seem, shedding light on the complexities of cancer causation and prevention.


For 2024, the American Cancer Society anticipates that slightly over 2 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States, and sadly, approximately 611,720 deaths from cancer are expected in the country by the end of the year.


Over the past two decades, from 2001 to 2020, cancer death rates have seen a significant decline of 27%, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Thanks to medical advancements, improved screening methods, and heightened awareness of early symptoms, cancer is no longer the dire prognosis it once was. While treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery can send cancer into remission or remove tumors, the ultimate goal is to prevent cancer altogether.


Lifestyle choices play a pivotal role in cancer risk. Smoking, leading a sedentary life, adopting poor dietary habits, and excessive sun exposure without proper skin protection all contribute to an increased risk of developing cancer. By avoiding these well-known risk factors, individuals can significantly reduce their chances of developing cancer. 


Some people also take precautions to avoid environmental factors that may elevate their cancer risk, such as residing in polluted areas, using plastic bottles for drinking, or consuming excessive amounts of red meat.


Understandably, people may become overwhelmed by the multitude of everyday factors that appear to influence cancer risk. New studies often warn about various substances, products, or behaviors that could potentially increase the risk of cancer. However, it's important to note that some of this research may not be entirely accurate or conclusive. In the following sections, we will explore five examples of potential cancer risks that may warrant closer scrutiny.




Amid global speculation and concerns about the potential cancer risk associated with cellphone use, it's crucial to rely on scientific evidence. Cellphones emit radiofrequency (RF) waves, which fall within a range of electromagnetic energy between FM radio waves and microwaves. These RF waves are classified as non-ionizing radiation, which means they lack the energy required to directly damage DNA inside cells. As a result, extensive research, including studies conducted by the American Cancer Society, has not found a conclusive link between cellphone use and cancer. 


No evidence supports the notion of a "dose-response relationship" between higher cellphone use and an increased risk of brain tumors. Furthermore, tumors do not appear more frequently on the side of the head where individuals use their phones the most. Thus, fears regarding your smartphone causing cancer appear to be unsubstantiated.


Power Lines


Power lines have been a subject of concern regarding potential cancer risks. However, numerous studies have consistently found no association between power lines and cancer development. The electromagnetic energy emitted by power lines is low-frequency radiation, and it does not possess the capability to damage genes or increase cancer risk. Thus, scientific research has reassured us that living near power lines does not elevate the likelihood of developing cancer.


Artificial Sweeteners


Artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin (Sweet'N Low), aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal), and sucralose (Splenda), have been the subject of scrutiny due to their metabolic effects. While they have been linked to adverse metabolic outcomes, including increased blood pressure, elevated "bad" cholesterol levels, and weight gain, there is no evidence to suggest that artificial sweeteners directly cause cancer in humans. 


The concern stems from an early 1970s study that found saccharin induced bladder cancer in rats. However, subsequent human experiments failed to replicate these results. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has conducted hundreds of studies on artificial sweeteners, concluding that there is no conclusive evidence of an increased cancer risk associated with their consumption. It's important to note that while sugar consumption doesn't worsen existing cancer or make it disappear, maintaining a high-sugar diet can contribute to excessive weight gain, which is associated with a heightened risk of various cancer types.




Deodorants often contain aluminum, raising questions about whether prolonged use could increase the risk of breast cancer. Concerns revolve around the potential estrogen-like effects of aluminum, which might promote breast cancer cell growth. Fortunately, most studies have not found any compelling evidence supporting this hypothesis. Although some studies detected parabens, commonly used as preservatives in deodorants, in breast cancer tumors, they did not explore their prevalence in healthy breast tissue. 


Additionally, as stated by the Food and Drug Administration, major deodorant brands do not typically contain parabens. While concerns exist, scientific consensus largely supports the safety of deodorant use in relation to breast cancer risk.


Hair Dyes


Hair dyes containing various chemicals have prompted concerns about potential cancer risks, particularly among those who regularly color their hair. Research on the topic has produced mixed results, with studies investigating links between hair dyes and blood cancers, such as leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, showing no clear relationship. 


Similarly, studies examining connections between hair dyes and breast or bladder cancer have not found conclusive evidence of an increased cancer risk. However, individuals working with hair dyes are advised to wear protective gloves to minimize potential exposure to these chemicals, as they could pose an elevated risk in occupational settings.


Dental Fillings


Dental fillings, commonly used to treat cavities, often contain mercury and other metals like silver, tin, and copper, forming what is known as dental amalgam. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), dental amalgam fillings are considered safe due to the stable nature of the combination of these metals. Importantly, the type of mercury used in dental amalgams is not the same as the methylmercury associated with health problems. The scientific consensus, supported by the ADA, affirms the safety and stability of dental amalgams, assuaging concerns about mercury exposure from dental fillings.


Cancer and Long-Term Care


While advances in diagnosis and treatment have increased cancer survival rates, the potential need for long-term care remains a concern for many survivors. Fortunately, having a past cancer diagnosis doesn't automatically disqualify you from Long-Term Care Insurance.


Certain cancer treatments can leave long-term side effects that may increase your need for future care. For instance, chemo or radiation can lead to fatigue, cognitive issues, or musculoskeletal problems. This highlights the importance of considering long-term care planning, even if you're currently cancer-free.


While cancer history won't automatically bar you from obtaining an LTC policy, factors like the time since diagnosis, cancer type and stage, current health, and treatment history all influence eligibility and pricing. 


Consulting a qualified LTC Insurance specialist knowledgeable about underwriting guidelines from all the top-rated insurance companies for cancer survivors is key. They can navigate different companies and policies to find options tailored to your unique situation.


Even if you have been declined for Long-Term Care Insurance in the past due to cancer history, remember there are alternatives. Plus, each insurance company has different underwriting guidelines. Unless you have very poor health or are already needing care, you may be able to find affordable options. 


Remember, a recent study in the Journal of Geriatric Oncology found a 50% higher likelihood of needing long-term care for cancer survivors compared to individuals without a cancer history. However, the risk varies significantly depending on individual factors.


Remember, proactive planning is crucial, regardless of health history. While navigating LTC Insurance with a cancer history might necessitate extra steps, consulting experts and considering alternative options empower you to secure the care you may need later in life. By taking decisive action now, you can ensure a future of security and peace of mind, both for yourself and your loved ones.


Ideally, the best time to obtain coverage is in your 40s or 50s. However, depending on your health, affordable options exist for those in your 60s and beyond.


Long-Term Care Insurance Cost: Factors, Considerations and Price Ranges


Benefits of Regular Health Check-Ups: Early Detection and Prevention


Regular health check-ups play a crucial role in maintaining your overall well-being and are a proactive approach to managing your health. These routine examinations serve as a preventive strategy, allowing medical professionals to assess your current health status and screen for potential health issues. Regular check-ups provide an opportunity for early detection of diseases, including various types of cancer, at a stage when they are most treatable, and the chances of a successful outcome are significantly higher.


Early detection through routine screenings is particularly vital when it comes to cancer. When identified early, many cancers can be treated more effectively, leading to better survival rates and less invasive treatment options. Regular check-ups often include screenings based on your age, gender, medical history, and risk factors, ensuring that any unusual changes in your body are investigated promptly. By catching cancer early, you benefit from a wider range of treatment possibilities and a higher likelihood of recovery.


Moreover, regular health check-ups foster a stronger relationship with your health provider. This partnership enables open communication about your health concerns, lifestyle choices, and preventive measures. It's an opportunity to receive personalized advice on how to reduce your risk of diseases, including cancer, through lifestyle modifications such as diet, exercise, and avoiding harmful habits. 


Regular check-ups are not just a means to detect health issues early; they are a cornerstone of a conscious, preventive health strategy that empowers you to take control of your health and well-being. 


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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

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