Products that Cause Cancer: Myths & Truths

February 11, 2016
Causes of Cancer

Every day, we are exposed to a number of substances that increase our risk of developing cancer. At the same time, numerous products have been unfairly labeled as potentially carcinogenic. To better understand what causes cancer and what doesn't, consider the following.
Artificial Sweeteners: There is no definitive proof that sugar substitutes increase the risk of cancer in humans. While studies suggest saccharine can cause cancer in rats, their bodies react differently than ours.
Bottled Water: Most clear plastic bottled water is made of bisphenol A (BPA). While studies suggest this chemical may cause health problems in certain people, it has not been linked to cancer.
Dental Fillings: Research has found no link between mercury metal fillings and cancer or any other type of disease.
Coffee: Not only does coffee pose no apparent health risks; studies suggest moderate consumption may reduce the risk of liver, skin, colon and other forms of cancer.
Fluoride: A mountain of research has looked for links between this common water and toothpaste additive and cancer; however, most researchers say there’s no strong tie.
X-Rays: Even low doses of x-rays can raise your risk of developing cancer, but only by a tiny amount. Higher doses of radiation generally increase the cancer risk, which is why the EPA limits how much you can get.
Meat: Luncheon meats, hot dogs and cold cuts all contain nitrites, which cause cancer. Smoking and cooking meats at high temperatures may also create cancer-causing compounds. Red meat has also been linked to an increased risk of colon and other cancers.
Sex: Human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common STD, can cause cervical, throat and genital cancer. That said, while most people will contract the disease during their lifetime, only a small percentage will develop cancer.
Household Products: Many paints, pesticides, waxes, varnishes, cleaning and cosmetic products emit volatile organic compound gases, which have been linked to cancer in animals and humans.
Pollution: Air pollution causes more than 220,000 lung cancer deaths worldwide every year. To reduce your risk, listen to local smog alerts and try to stay inside when the air quality is poor.
Deodorant and Antiperspirant: Because many of these products contain chemicals that act like the hormone estrogen, they could potentially increase the risk of cancer. Still, more research is needed before a clear link can be established.
Cell Phones: While no study had definitively linked cell phone-use to cancer, some have hinted at a relationship. Until more is known, consider limiting your chats and using a hands-free device.
Power Lines: Anything that uses, sends, or makes electricity gives off extremely low frequency radiation. While there is no clear evidence that power lines cause cancer, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences says there is reason for “limited concern.”

father and daughter hugging
The overall care I received was excellent! I also appreciate your affiliation with Yale New Haven Hospital.
Derby, CT
  • 5.0
  • 4.6