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. Few 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:May 9th, 2022

In 2022, according to the American Cancer Society, there will be an estimated 1.9 million new cancer cases diagnosed and 609,360 cancer deaths in the United States. The most recent statistics say that worldwide, there will be over 17 million new cancer cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says in the past 20 years, from 2001 to 2020, cancer death rates went down by 27%. For some, chemotherapy or radiation therapy sends it into remission, where there's a chance it could come back. Others undergo surgery to remove the tumor, hoping no cancer cells are left behind. Despite the various hardships (which aren't limited to the aforementioned) that follow a cancer diagnosis, it's no longer a death sentence.

For many people, cancer seems to just emerge out of nowhere. Medical advancements, better screening techniques, and heightened awareness of early signs have led to this decrease in cancer deaths over the past 20 years. The goal, however, is to not get cancer in the first place.

Certainly, lifestyle has a connection with cancer risk. Smoking, sedentary lifestyles, poor diets, and spending lots of time in the sun without protecting your skin are just some ways you'll increase your risk. 

Avoiding these known causes of cancer will dramatically lower your risk of cancer developing. Some people may even avoid environmental factors that could increase cancer risk. These factors include living in polluted areas, drinking from plastic bottles, or eating lots of red meat.

With so many everyday things contributing to cancer risk, it's easy to get bogged down worrying about each and everything you do, especially when new studies warn of a new substance, product, or behavior that can increase cancer risk. 

Sometimes, the research is just not true. Other times, there's just not enough evidence to call it conclusive. Here are five examples of cancer risk that might be questionable.

Cellphones

Rumors have swirled worldwide about the possibility that the cellular signals emitted from our cell phones can cause cancer. Studies have even suggested that prolonged talking on our cellphones can cause brain tumors to grow over the course of decades. Considering there are 96 cellphone subscriptions for every 100 people in the world (not implying one subscription per person), it's a good thing cell phones don't cause cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, the cellular waves emitted from our phones' antennas are radiofrequency (RF). These waves fall on a spectrum of electromagnetic energy between FM radio waves and microwaves. They're a form of non-ionizing radiation, meaning "they don't have enough energy to cause cancer by directly damaging the DNA inside cells." 

If RF was to cause cancer, studies would either show a "dose-response relationship," in which higher rates of cellphone use were associated with a higher risk of brain tumors, or tumors would grow more often on the side of the head in which people used their phones the most. Yet, no studies have shown these relationships.

How about power lines?

No, no study shows that power lines cause cancer. The magnetic energy emitted by power lines is a low-frequency form of radiation that does not damage genes.

Artificial Sweeteners

Between artificial sweeteners and regular sugar, you're probably better off going with regular sugar — in moderation. 

Artificial sweeteners containing the chemicals saccharin (Sweet'N Low), aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal), and sucralose (Splenda) have been shown to wreak havoc on metabolism, causing increases in blood pressure, "bad" cholesterol levels, and body fat. 

Artificial sweeteners don't increase a person's risk of cancer. The idea that artificial sweeteners cause cancer comes from an early 1970s study that found saccharin caused bladder cancer to develop in rats. However, those results couldn't be duplicated in human experiments. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), hundreds of studies on all those chemicals turned up no conclusive link with a higher risk of any form of cancer.

There has been discussion that eating foods with sugar will increase the growth of an existing cancer. The National Cancer Institute says there has not been any study showing that eating sugar will make your cancer worse or that not eating sugar will cause your cancer to shrink or disappear. However, a high-sugar diet may contribute to excess weight gain, and obesity is associated with an increased risk of developing several types of cancer. 

Deodorant

If you've ever looked at the ingredient list on your deodorant's label, you might have wondered how the active ingredient, aluminum, affects your health beyond clogging up your sweat glands. 

Women may relate to this the most since they're applying that aluminum inches away from their breasts. If enough aluminum is absorbed, will it cause breast cancer?

The prevailing argument is that aluminum causes estrogen-like effects that may promote breast cancer cell growth. Thankfully though, most studies on the topic haven't found any evidence this is true.

Parabens, which are typically used as preservatives in deodorants, studies have shown high levels of them in breast cancer tumors. However, these studies didn't investigate their prevalence of them in healthy breast tissue. Plus, the Food and Drug Administration has said most major brands of deodorants and antiperspirants don't contain parabens anyway.

Hair Dyes

Hair dyes might make you look good, but they're filled with chemicals. So it shouldn't be surprising that people who regularly get their hair colored, or do the coloring, would be concerned about cancer-causing risks. 

Studies looking at how these chemicals may affect blood cancers, such as leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma — from being absorbed through the skin — ended with mixed results, leaning more toward no relationship at all. 

Other studies on links between dyes and breast cancer and bladder cancer found no relationship. However, people who work with the dyes could be at an increased risk, so they're advised to wear gloves when working with the chemicals.

Dental Fillings

If you didn't know, those cavities you had filled a while back likely have mercury in them. But they also have other metals, including silver, tin, and copper. According to the American Dental Association, the combination of these metals makes the fillings, known as dental amalgams, completely safe. 

"It's important to know that when combined with the other metals, it forms a safe, stable material," the ADA says. What's more, the type of mercury used in the fillings isn't the same type (methylmercury) that has been shown to cause health problems.

Cancer History and Long-Term Care Insurance

Since fewer people die from cancer, does having cancer increase the risk of needing long-term health care? Perhaps. The treatment you have for cancer and the type of cancer can affect your overall risk.

For example, some chemotherapy and radiation treatments could have long-term side effects, which can cause chronic health issues that increase your need for long-term health care.

Since cancer is being diagnosed earlier, people in their 50s and 60s are concerned that a past diagnosis of cancer would prevent them from getting life insurance or Long-Term Care Insurance. 

There is good news - Having cancer in the past does not automatically disqualify you from obtaining Long-Term Care Insurance or life insurance. There's a good possibility you are eligible depending on when you had cancer and the type of stage cancer you had. A specialist can help you determine your eligibility and with which insurance companies. 

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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

Most long-term health care will not be covered by traditional health plans; only Long-Term Care Insurance will provide the funding for your choice of quality care options, including in-home care. 

Without LTC Insurance, the responsibility for your future long-term care is yours. That means you will pay for professional care from your income and assets, or your family will become caregivers - or both.

Most research polls say most people don't want to place that burden and stress on their spouses and adult children. People don't want to diminish their lifestyles and drain assets. A surviving spouse may live many years beyond, and a significant drain on savings can become a financial disaster.

Some people think declining health and aging will not impact them. The truth is that aging happens, and we should prepare for the future costs and burdens of aging. The consequences are real, and the solution is available.

The solution for many people is affordable Long-Term Care Insurance. Yet, who wants to buy another insurance policy? This is an understandable concern; however, LTC Insurance is more than just about money - it is about family. 

The time to obtain coverage is ideally in your 40s and 50s when you still enjoy fairly good health, and premiums are much lower. 

Seek Professional Help Planning for Long-Term Care

Experts recommend seeking the help of a qualified and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you find the right coverage. A specialist will match your age, health, and family history with the right coverage at the right price. 

Long-term care is a very specialized area, and few insurance agents and financial advisors have the expertise. Find a specialist who represents the top companies as premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies. Leading specialists will often have over 500 clients with Long-Term Care Insurance.

A specialist will save you money, and you will have peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.

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Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.

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If your loved one is lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea. 

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Many insurance companies have issued Long-Term Care Insurance policies over the years. Filing a claim can sometimes be complicated unless you know what to do or get expert help and assistance. 

Don't allow the claim process to stop you from using the benefits available in an LTC policy. Quality care obtained early will help provide a better quality of life and reduce the risk of a deep decline and facility care. 

If you need help in starting the process of a Long-Term Care Insurance claim, LTC NEWS can help. LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you or a loved one complete the claims process with a Long-Term Care Insurance policy. We have teamed up with Amada Senior Care, who will do all the work - free with no obligation. 

Get help finding quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News

Advantages of Reverse Mortgages 

Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance. You might be eligible at younger ages as well. 

Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, and even help with cash flow during your retirement. 

Learn more by asking questions to an expert. Mike Banner, LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages. 

- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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