The truth about cancer: Oncologists cures 6 common myths

Access to the wealth of information on the Internet can make anyone feel like an expert, but when it comes to your health, it's best to let medical professionals do the talking.

"There are many sites on the Internet that are very bad. There are many sites that are very good. You need to have insight into which those are," said IU West Radiation Oncologist Gordon Watson.

Watson addressed -- and debunked -- some of the cancer myths that can be found online:

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Myth: Cancer is a modern, man-made disease.

Watson says cancer isn't new.

"Even in the days of the caveman, cancer existed, men died of it, women died of it. It's been with us as long as we've been around," he said.

While cancer isn't new, Watson does say environmental factors have increased the rate at which cancer occurs.

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Myth: "Superfoods" like blueberries and leafy greens can fight cancer.

"They certainly don't cure cancer," Watson said. "Once you've got cancer, super foods aren't anything that's going to change the course of it."

But including super foods in your diet can be a good way to boost your overall wellness.

"Being healthy in general is probably your best bet," Watson said.

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Myth: Sugar "feeds" cancer's sweet tooth.

Watson said cancer uses sugar in the same way the brain does.

"If you want to starve your cancer of sugar, theoretically, you're starving your brain of sugar too," he said.

Watson said when he had cancer several years ago, he did not skimp on treats.

"I had extra ice cream sundaes to reward myself," he said.

Watson said the bottom line is, if cancer goes untreated, it will get what it needs to grow.

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Myth: Cancer is a fungus.

Fungus may pop up in cancer research, but it's not part of the cancer itself.

"Oftentimes fungus will grow out in those cultures, and that's actually a contaminant," Watson said. "That's not the cancer cells. That's where the myth arose from."

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Myth: Chemotherapy does more harm than good.

When Vicki Hass was diagnosed with breast cancer, she received this unsolicited advice.

"There were a few people who were trying to tell me don't do the chemo because it's poison in your body," she said.

Watson said this myth is dangerous.

"To avoid treatment because of the perception that it's going to be worse than the cancer, that is a very harmful myth," he said.

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Myth: If cancer is in your genes, you can't avoid having it.

Watson said this couldn't be further from the truth.

In fact, someone with a family history of cancer is likely to be screened more closely and more often.

"If you find cancer early, you cure it. If you find cancer late, you don't," he said.

 

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