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Stick to the Science

Cancer is a complex group of diseases with many possible causes, and there’s a lot of information out there about why it develops. Although the Institute focuses our work on cancer’s relationship with nutrition, weight, and physical activity, we want to help you make sense of the stories you hear about other risk factors; some of which – though scientifically wrong – seem to make sense.

This content was last updated on January 17, 2020

This page offers the latest science-based information about a few very real risk factors, and clears up some common cancer myths and misconceptions. If you want to learn more about any of the below topics, we urge you to find information from a reputable health agency or institution, like the National Cancer Institute or CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.

Smoking and Cancer

Smoking is the leading cause of premature, preventable death in the U.S., and it is the leading cause of cancer worldwide, causing almost six million deaths each year.

Smoking harms nearly every bodily organ and organ system in the body. It causes cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, cervix, colon, and rectum, as well as acute myeloid leukemia. It is also linked to dozens of serious health conditions and diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.

There’s no good form of smoking. Cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, and all “variations” cigarettes (e.g. “light” cigarettes, “low-tar” cigarettes, “all natural” cigarettes, menthol cigarettes) – all forms of smoking damage your health, and they all carry immense risk.

Smoking is a totally avoidable cancer risk. Millions of families would be spared the pain and anguish of cancer with if people did not smoke.

The challenges of quitting smoking are well documented, but the benefits of living smoke-free are massive, and resources are out there to help you quite.

  • Carcinogens. Tobacco smoke contains a number of known carcinogens — substances that cause cancer. Many people know that smoking causes lung cancer, but it can also cause many other types, including breast, colorectal, blood, bladder, liver, mouth, pancreatic and stomach cancer.
  • Passive smoking. Meaning exposure to someone else’s tobacco smoke also increases the risk of lung cancer and is particularly dangerous for children.
  • E-cigarettes. E-cigarettes (“vaping”) do not contain tobacco but they still appear to pose health risks. Although the term “vapor” may sound harmless, the aerosol that comes out of an e-cigarette is not water vapor and can be harmful. E-cigarette vapor can contain nicotine and other substances that are addictive and can cause lung disease, heart disease, and cancer. E-cigarettes are still fairly new, and more research is needed over a longer period of time to know what the long-term health effects may be. There have been reports of severe lung illnesses in some people who vape, although it’s not clear how widespread this might be.

Resources and Support

There are numerous resources available to help you give up smoking. For some inital ideas, please visit:

Be Safe in the Sun

The majority of skin cancer cases are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and, increasingly, from sunbeds.

Between 2 and 3 million skin cancers occur globally each year, and rates are rising. Melanoma, which is the least common but most serious type of skin cancer, causes the majority of deaths from the disease. The risk of melanoma rises with age, but it is increasingly one of the most common cancers among young people.

Most cases of skin cancer could be prevented by avoiding overexposure to UV rays. UVA and UVB are the two main types of sun rays, and both cause skin cancer by damaging the DNA in our skin cells. Some groups of people are more at risk of the skin damage that leads to skin cancer than others, including children and those with fair skin or red or light-colored hair. Sunburn also increases the risk of skin cancer; getting a sunburn just once every two years can triple your risk of melanoma. So if you’ve had sunburn in the past you need to do more to protect your skin in the future.

The best ways to enjoy the sun safely and protect yourself from sun damage that could lead to skin cancer are:

  • not staying in the sun too long, especially between 11 am and 3 pm between March and October
  • applying high-factor sunscreen frequently
  • wearing a hat, sunglasses, and clothes that cover your arms and legs

It’s important to protect your skin even when you already have a tan. Avoid using sunbeds or tanning booths. Fake tan is safer than using sunbeds, but Melanotan injections are illegal and unsafe.

Vitamin D

Some people can get enough vitamin D by enjoying the sun safely and, as it is also found in foods, by eating a healthy diet.

People who have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency are being advised to take a supplement all year round.

Visit the National Institutes of Health for more information on sunlight and cancer.

Infections and Cancer

Many people don’t realize that infections can be associated with cancer, but almost a fifth of cancers worldwide are caused by viral, bacterial or parasitic infections.

Those most commonly associated with an increased cancer risk are the human papilloma virus (HPV), hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV), and the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H pylori).

  • HPV. HPV is a common infection, but there are some high-risk types of the virus which can lead to several cancers, including cervical and anal. It is spread through close skin-to-skin contact, usually during sexual activity. Using a barrier method of contraception reduces the risk. Vaccination is also effective where available: for example, girls in the UK (aged 12-13) and the US (11-12) are offered vaccination against the types of HPV that cause the majority of cervical cancers.
  • HBV and HCV. Infection with HBV or HCV can cause liver cancer. These can be passed on through blood and other bodily fluids, most commonly through sexual activity or sharing needles to inject drugs. In most countries, young children are offered routine vaccination against HBV. The risk can also be reduced by practicing safe sex and not sharing needles.
  • H pylori. Infection with H pylori, a type of bacterium that grows in the inside layer of the human stomach, is very common worldwide, especially in low and middle-income countries. Usually acquired during childhood, it is spread through contaminated food and water and direct mouth-to-mouth contact. It increases the risk of stomach cancer. It can also cause stomach ulcers. Infection with H pylori can be treated, so it’s important to talk to your doctor if you have stomach problems or ulcers.
  • HIV. People infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are also at an increased risk of some cancers, including Kaposi sarcoma, lymphoma, liver, and lung. Treatment for HIV is available, so anyone who thinks they are at risk should talk to their doctor about being tested.

Breast Implants

Numerous studies have been conducted to find out whether silicone leakage from breast implants increases the risk of breast cancer. No study has yet found any evidence that this is the case. 

Burned or Browned Foods

Acrylamide is present in many different types of food and is a natural by-product of the cooking process. More research is needed.

The highest levels of the substance are found in foods with high starch content which have been cooked above 248 degrees Fahrenheit, such as chips, bread, breakfast cereals, cookies, crackers, cakes and coffee (as a result of the roasted beans).

It can also be produced during home cooking, when high-starch foods – such as potatoes, fries, bread and parsnips — are baked, roasted, grilled or fried at high temperatures. When bread is toasted, for example, this causes more acrylamide to be produced. The darker the color of the toast, the more acrylamide is present.

However, the research linking acrylamide to cancer has only been carried out using animals. AICR/WCRF has carried out a review of studies in people, and found no link between acrylamide in food and cancer. More research is needed.

Coffee

There is no strong evidence that coffee increases cancer risk, but there is strong evidence that coffee can actually reduce the risk of endometrial and liver cancer.

However, the Institute cannot make any specific recommendations because there are too many unanswered questions — for example, are the benefits a result of drinking coffee regularly, or in large amounts? There is also no evidence on the effects of adding milk and/or sugar, or of drinking caffeinated, decaffeinated, instant or filter coffee.

For general health, research from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) shows it is safe for healthy adults, including pregnant women, to drink single doses of up to 200 milligrams of caffeine. Drinking up to 400mg of caffeine through the day does not raise safety concerns in the general population, which is equal to around four cups of filter coffee a day.Learn more on coffee and cancer risk in AICR’s Foods That Fight Cancer.

Computer Screens

Computer screens and monitors do emit electromagnetic radiation, but only at low levels that are considerably below the safe levels laid down by international recommendations. Studies have found no links between computer screens and risks to health.

Cosmetics and Toiletries

Most studies have found no link between cancer and the chemicals used in cosmetic and toiletry products such as moisturizers, shampoos, deodorants, and toothpastes.

The majority of countries have strict regulations to ensure these products are safe.

Some studies have found a link between talcum powder (talc) and ovarian cancer, but there is not enough evidence to be certain of this. Even if there were an increased risk, scientists estimate it would be small. Research is ongoing.

Visit the Food and Drug Administration for individual lists of approved color additives in food, drugs and cosmetics.

Dairy

The Institute’s latest comprehensive report on breast cancer did NOT find strong evidence that dairy foods have an effect on breast cancer risk.

The report reviewed ALL the relevant literature in the field, and was created from the highest quality evidence available.

  • For pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer, evidence was limited – but suggestive that diets high in calcium decrease risk.
  • For premenopausal breast cancer, evidence was also limited – but was suggestive that dairy products decrease risk.

That means it is not strong enough to say there is a link, but the studies point in that direction.

  • For post menopausal breast cancer, evidence was even weaker for dairy products — though it was judged to be limited — meaning there was no conclusion. So there were no links showing that dairy foods increase risk for breast cancer.

However for colorectal cancer, evidence shows that dairy products decrease risk for that cancer.

Food Additives

The only additives for which evidence has shown a link with cancer are nitrites and nitrates, which are used as preservatives in processed meat.

Eating processed meat is strongly associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

Food additives are ingredients added to foods for various reasons – for example, to add color, enhance flavors or to make them last longer. All additives, including artificial sweeteners, are assessed for safety before they are used in foods.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assesses all additives before they can be used.

There is currently no other strong evidence linking food additives to an increased cancer risk.

Genetically Modified Foods

There is currently insufficient evidence to conclude that genetically modified foods affect cancer risk.

Genetically modified foods are produced from organisms that have had specific changes introduced into their DNA using genetic engineering.

Grilling

There is no clear research that says that grilling unto itself is linked to cancer risk.

But cooking meats at high temperatures — which can include grilling — can cause two carcinogens, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) to develop.

Laboratory experiments have shown that HCAs and PAHs can cause changes in DNA that may increase the risk of cancer.

Hormonal Contraception (such as The Pill)

Research to date suggests all types of hormonal contraception, including the combination (estrogen and progesterone containing) pill, the progesterone-only pill (known as the mini-pill), and the contraceptive patch (which contains estrogen and progesterone), increase the risk of breast cancer compared with women who do not use these forms of contraception

But more research is needed to confirm this, especially the link between the progesterone-only pill and breast cancer, where the evidence is less clear.

There is also some research suggesting a link between long-term use of combined (estrogen and progestogen) contraception, such as the combination pill and patch, and a small increased risk of developing cervical cancer.

With the combination pill — the evidence is less clear for the progesterone-only ‘mini’ pill — the risk slightly increases when taking the pill, but slowly returns to normal after you stop. For both breast and cervical cancer, evidence shows that 10 years after you stop taking the combination pill, your risk will be the same as if it had never been taken. This has also been shown for breast cancer risk on women who took the progesterone-only pill.

Evidence shows the pill offers some protection against some cancers by reducing the risk of developing ovarian (risk continues to decrease the longer the pill is taken), endometrial (for at least 15 years after you stop taking the pill), liver and colorectal cancers. This may also be the case for the contraceptive patch. More research is needed to confirm these links.

The increase in cancer risk from using any form of hormonal contraception is very small and, for many women, the benefits may outweigh the risk. However, if you are concerned, it is best to discuss your options with your doctor. Not smoking, followed by maintaining a healthy weight, keeping active and eating a healthy diet, are the most effective ways to reduce your cancer risk.

Visit IARC for more information.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

There is strong evidence that taking HRT increases the risk of breast, endometrial and ovarian cancers. However, this increase is only slight.

A woman’s exact risk is dependent on the type of HRT being taken, how long it is taken for and how strong the dose is.

HRT is taken by women going through menopause to help reduce symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats and mood changes. It works by increasing the amount of estrogen, which naturally drops during menopause, in the body.

HRT does have benefits for women. It can improve quality of life by relieving many of the symptoms of menopause. There is also evidence that it can reduce a woman’s risk of developing colorectal cancer and osteoporosis (thin or weak bones).

It is best to discuss whether to start or stop using HRT with your doctor, who will be able to tell you what options are available to you. For some women, the benefits may outweigh the risks. However, to minimize the risk of breast cancer, it is preferable to use the lowest dose of HRT necessary to relieve your symptoms for the shortest possible time.

Not smoking, followed by maintaining a healthy weight, keeping active and eating a healthy diet, are the most effective ways to reduce your cancer risk.

HRT does affect different cancers in different ways, though the overall increased risk is small.

  • Breast Cancer. Studies have shown that taking combined HRT (which contains the hormones estrogen and progesterone) increases the risk of breast cancer. The evidence about estrogen-only HRT is less clear — it may also increase risk, but to a lesser extent than with combined HRT.

With combined HRT, the risk of developing breast cancer increases slightly the longer you take HRT, but decreases gradually once you stop. Five years after stopping HRT, the risk of developing breast cancer will be the same as if it had never been taken. The evidence is less clear for estrogen-only HRT.

Naturally occurring estrogen and progesterone are thought to affect the growth of some breast cancers — having higher levels of these hormones from taking HRT might explain why it increases the risk of breast cancer, but we don’t yet know for sure.

  • Endometrial Cancer. There is strong evidence that estrogen-only HRT increases the risk of endometrial cancer. The evidence relating to combined HRT is less clear: the increase in endometrial cancer risk seems to be smaller in women using combined HRT than estrogen-only HRT. It is also possible that, with the correct dose of progesterone within combined HRT, there is no effect on risk, but this is still to be shown in the evidence.
  • Ovarian Cancer. Evidence has shown an increase in risk of ovarian cancer from taking both combined and estrogen-only HRT. The size of the increase in risk is small, but it is seen quite quickly (in women who have been taking HRT for less than five years). However, once HRT stops being taken, the risk does start to reduce.
  • Colorectal Cancer. There is some evidence that HRT may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, but as yet there is insufficient evidence to confirm which type of HRT is most beneficial, the size of the reduction in risk or how long the benefit lasts. More research is needed to confirm these.

Visit the National Cancer Institute for more information on hormones.

Hormones in Cattle

A EU Scientific Committee report has stated that there is no scientific evidence that this hormone is a health risk.

Legislation about hormones in cattle varies from country to country. For example, growth hormones are used in dairy farming in the US, whereas the use of hormonal growth promoters for livestock is banned in the UK. Antibiotic growth-promoting feed additives have also been phased out due to concerns about the potential spread of antibiotic resistance.

Bovine somatotropin (or BST) is a hormone used to increase milk or meat production in cattle and is banned in the UK and Europe but is licensed in the US. BST was banned on animal welfare grounds, not because there is any proven effect on human health.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration regulates the content of milk and other dairy products to ensure these products are safe to consume.

Visit the FDA’s Milk Guidance Documents & Regulatory Information for more information.

Indoor Air Pollution

Exposure to tobacco smoke and radon in your home increases your risk of cancer.

The main sources of indoor air pollution are tobacco smoke and radon gas.  Exposure to tobacco smoke in your home, including passive smoking through exposure to other people’s smoke, increases your risk of cancer.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas which is associated with a slightly increased risk of lung cancer. In areas where the gas occurs naturally in high concentrations, it can build up to high levels.

The US Environmental Protection Agency provides guidance on how you can reduce the amount of radon you are exposed to in the home to a safe level: https://www.epa.gov/radon

However, exposure to radon is associated with a very small amount of lung cancer cases in comparison with the number caused by smoking. Most of these are actually caused jointly by radon gas and smoking — smokers living in areas with high levels of radon gas are more than 20 times more likely to develop the disease.

Inherited Genes / Family History

Only about five to ten per cent of all cancer cases result from specific inherited genes.

Scientists have identified some inherited gene mutations that are linked to cancer, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 which increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers in particular. However, these gene mutations are relatively rare.

People who inherit gene mutations such as these have a higher than average risk of developing some types of cancer, although it doesn’t mean they will definitely get cancer.

If you have a history of cancer in your family, or are concerned you may have inherited genes that increase your cancer risk, it is always best to speak to your doctor.

Visit the National Institute for Health for more on cancer and genetics.

Microwave Ovens

Although some studies have suggested an association between microwave ovens and cancer, most research has found no link

Microwave ovens produce electromagnetic radiation, but most countries have manufacturing standards that specify maximum leakage levels for new ovens. This reduces leakage outside the ovens to almost undetectable levels, and leakage also drops as you move further away from the oven. A modern oven in good condition is safe to use if you follow the instructions correctly.

Cooking food in microwave ovens does not cause cancer either. However, it’s important to remember that any type of cooking can affect the nutritional value of some foods, such as fruit and vegetables.  In general, the best way to keep as many nutrients as possible in fruit and vegetables is to use a little water and avoid overcooking them.

Mobile Phones

There is not yet enough data to draw strong scientific conclusions about the use of mobile phones and cancer risk.

Some smaller studies have found a possible link between use of mobile phones and cancer, but these studies were not considered of good enough quality to be certain of a true effect. The largest study carried out so far has found no link. However, the widespread use of mobile phones is still a relatively recent practice, so there has not yet been enough research into their long-term effects.

The radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation that mobile phones give off is very weak and cannot directly cause cancer. In 2012 an independent report concluded that there is no convincing evidence that health risks could be caused by exposure to radiofrequency fields, including those from mobile phones, cell phone towers and base stations, at levels within international guidelines.

Studies in this field are continuing but, in the meantime, most governments recommend avoiding heavy mobile phone use by, for example, using a hands-free set and keeping calls short.

And as there has not been enough research into the effects of mobile phone use on children’s health, it is advised that children under the age of 16 should only use mobile phones for essential calls.

Night Shift Work

Some studies in the past have suggested that working night-shifts or being exposed to artificial light at night could increase the risk of cancer, in particular breast cancer. However, many of these studies looked at breast cancer in animals, and so did not prove that shift work increases the risk of breast cancer in humans.

In 2007, the International Agency for Research into Cancer (IARC) concluded that working night shifts “probably” does increase the risk of cancer, based on the available evidence at the time. But more recently, a review of ten different studies in humans showed that night shift work is unlikely to increase your risk of breast cancer.

This research also found that women working night shifts are more likely to be overweight or obese than women who don’t work night shifts – and overweight and obesity are associated with a higher risk of many cancers, including breast cancer. This may be because the working pattern of night shift workers makes it more difficult to shop for and cook healthy food, or take part in regular physical activity.

Based on all the research to date, there is not enough reliable evidence to suggest that night shift work causes breast cancer. IARC is now planning to review the evidence on shift work.

CDC National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health and the NIH have more information on occupation risks and occupational exposures.

Occupational Exposure

Exposure to radiation, asbestos, pesticides or other cancer-causing chemical substances through your occupation can be associated with a higher risk of developing cancer.

It’s important to remember that this usually affects only a small number of people in very specific jobs, and that the main risk comes from heavy exposure over several years.

However, most countries now have strict regulations for hazardous substances in the workplace, which means that exposure to them, and the associated health risks, have been significantly reduced in recent years.

Regulation of these substances is generally more effective than individual actions. In addition, smoking often increases the risk related to occupational cancer-causing substances. Non-smoking asbestos workers are five times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers not exposed to asbestos; if they also smoke, the risk factor jumps to 50 or higher. Environmental exposures also can increase the risk of lung cancer death.

It is best to follow your employer’s safety guidelines to limit your exposure and reduce your risk.

Organic Food

There is currently limited evidence to suggest that organic foods may offer added protection against cancer compared to conventionally grown produce.

Organic farming makes use of crop rotation, environmental management and good animal husbandry to control pests and diseases. This means that there are limited additives used in organic food production. Processed organic foods use ingredients that are produced organically, and for a food to be certified organic, at least 95% of the food must be made up of organic ingredients.

There are many different reasons why consumers choose to buy organic food, such as concern for the environment and animal welfare. Consumers may also choose to buy organic food because they believe it is safer and more nutritious than other food and that artificial fertilizers and pesticides may increase the risk of some diseases, including cancer.

Two large studies have looked at organic food consumption and cancer risk. The Million Women Study, a large study of UK women, showed in 2014 little or no decrease in the incidence of cancer associated with consumption of organic food. A study published in 2018 in a large group of French adults showed that people who had more organic foods, more frequently, in their diets had a lower risk of several types of cancer.

However, this is a single study and due to its design, it is not possible to be sure that the organic food was causing the lower risk of cancer. There may be other factors, such as income, which influence the results.

Outdoor Air Pollution and Diesel Exposure

Air pollution is linked to a slightly increased risk of cancer.

Sources of air pollution range from those caused by human activity, such as vehicle fumes and smoke from burning fuels, to natural pollutants such as desert dust and radon gas.

In particular, a specific type of air pollutant called particulate matter, which is present in diesel and gasoline exhaust fumes (and tobacco smoke), has been shown to increase the risk of cancer, especially lung cancer. Levels of particulate matter and other air pollutants are relatively low in most of the US, though levels are higher in some cities, and they can vary according to factors such as traffic density and weather conditions.

Pesticides

Both organic and conventional foods have to meet the same legal food safety requirements.

Before pesticides are approved, they are rigorously assessed to ensure they do not pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment, and that any pesticide residues left in food will not be harmful to consumers.

Pesticide residues in the food chain are also monitored to check they are within legal and safe limits. Additives are also subject to rigorous, pre-market safety assessments before they can be used in foods. Their use is controlled by legal limits, which ensures consumption does not exceed safe levels.

Visit the US Environmental Protection Agency for more information.

Plastic Bottles and Plastic Food Wrap

There are claims that chemicals in plastic drinks bottles, plastic food wrap and food containers can cause cancer by seeping into the contents.

While some studies have shown that a very small amount of chemicals in plastic packaging can get into drinks or food when heated, these amounts have been well within safe limits.

There is no reliable evidence that using plastic bottles or plastic food wrap to drink from, store or freeze food and liquids increases your risk of cancer. However, if you are cooking with plastics or using plastic utensils while cooking, the best thing to do is to follow the directions and only use plastics that are specifically meant for cooking. Inert containers, such as heat-resistant glass, ceramics and stainless steel, are preferable to use for cooking.

Having said this, the risk involved in using plastics for cooking is very small.

Power Lines

The type of radiation given off by power lines is low-frequency electromagnetic radiation which does not have sufficient energy to damage cells and thereby cause cancer.

However, some studies have suggested a link between exposure to magnetic fields and a small increase in the risk of childhood leukaemia.

The evidence for this is limited but a risk cannot be ruled out. No link has been found with health risks in adults.

Psychological Stress

Some people have suggested a link between psychological stress (which is what people experience when under mental, physical or emotional pressure) and an increased risk of cancer. However, there is no strong evidence for this.

Most studies have not found that such stress increases the risk of cancer.

However, people under stress can sometimes behave in unhealthy ways, such as smoking, overeating or drinking heavily, which does increase their risk of many cancers. If you’re under stress, it’s important to try to find other ways of coping such as doing physical activity.

Visit the National Cancer Institute’s section on coping with cancer for more information.

Radiation

Some types of radiation can cause us harm, including raising the risk of cancer, if we are exposed to too much of it.

Ionizing radiation has enough energy to damage DNA and increase the risk of cancer. Non-ionizing radiation has lower energy and, in most cases, has not been found to increase the risk of cancer, unless exposed at much higher levels than experienced in daily life. However, some technologies are relatively new, or the ways in which they are used have changed, and in these cases there is not yet enough data for scientists to be certain about the level of cancer risk.

Radiation at the levels experienced by most people in most situations carries only a very small health risk, if any. Not smoking, followed by maintaining a healthy weight, keeping active and eating a healthy diet, are the most effective ways to reduce your cancer risk.

Ionizing Radiation 

  • Naturally Occurring Radiation. This is ionizing radiation given off by natural sources (see radon), but the vast majority of people are rarely exposed to amounts high enough to cause us damage.
  • Medical Radiation. Our main exposure to ionizing radiation is through diagnostic medical X-rays and other types of body imaging such as radiography. It is estimated that about six in 1000 cancers are associated with diagnostic radiation but it’s important to remember that, while it’s worth avoiding unnecessary X-rays or scans, medical X-rays are generally used where they are the best solution and the need for the investigation outweighs the small potential risk. Where possible, doctors will recommend other types of imaging that don’t use radiation (such as ultrasound or an MRI scan). Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about having an X-ray, and tell them about any previous ones you may have had.
  • Airport Scanners. Most airports now use body scanners as part of their security measures. These scanners use either radio waves or ionizing radiation, but in both cases at such small doses that they do not raise your cancer risk.

Non-ionizing radiation

  • Non-ionizing radiation is given off by, for example, mobile phones, power lines and microwave ovens.

Sugar and Artificial Sweetener

There is no strong evidence to directly link sugar or artificial sweetener to cancer risk.

However, foods that are high in added sugar tend to be high in calories without being nutritious or filling. Eating high-calorie foods or drinking sugary drinks too often or in large quantities can lead to weight gain, and there is strong evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk of eleven cancers.  Maintaining a healthy weight through eating a healthy diet and keeping active, coupled with not smoking, are the most effective ways to reduce your cancer risk.

Studies on artificial sweeteners, including saccharin and aspartame, have shown no convincing evidence of an association with cancer. Earlier cancer scares linked with certain sweeteners have been discredited.

Underwire Bras

The majority of research has found no link between the use of underwire bras and breast cancer.

Tap Water

Research has found that drinking water contaminated with arsenic increases the risk of skin, lung and bladder cancer.

In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for checking the quality of water. The Clean Water Act and regulation of drinking water contaminants fall under the EPA’s authority; state and municipal water systems must comply with the standards set by the EPA to make sure that levels of chemicals and contaminants meet safe standards.

The EPA monitors the effects of water fluoridation on health. To date there is no evidence of a difference in the rate for all types of cancer between fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas.

Water is a healthier choice than many other drinks, particularly compared to those high in sugar and calories, which can contribute to weight gain.

Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for more information.

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