Fact or Fiction: Carcinogens



This principle suggests that if something has not been proven safe yet, it should be resisted. As opposed to the belief that if something hasn’t been proven dangerous yet, we should accept it. When it comes to possible carcinogens and your health, Rethink believes it’s better to be safe than sorry. So here’s the facts you should know.



There’s been a lot in the media about the perceived negative effects of cellphones – including cancer. First of all, excessive cellphone use isn’t good for anyone. Some of its actual negative effects can include increased stress levels, strain on your vision, and even immune system challenges because of the amount of germs they carry. However, when it comes to cellphones and carcinogens, it’s easy to to listen to the fear and rumours going around. So what’s the truth? According to the American Cancer Society, the radiofrequency (RF) waves produced by cellphones are non-ionizing, meaning they cannot produce enough energy to directly damage the DNA inside cells. Types of ionizing forms of radiation include: x-rays, gamma rays, and ultraviolet (UV) rays. The well-known Interphone Study, conducted by the World Health Organization, in 13 different countries, was the largest study investigating any potential link between cellphone use and cancerous tumours. The WHO concluded that, although more research should continue to be done, there is currently no connection between cellphone use and cancer.


Many of us know that smoking is bad because it causes lung cancer. But what we don’t hear is that lung cancer isn’t the only cause of smoking-related illnesses.  Vascular diseases are a real concern and can be just as deadly. Inhaling tobacco causes inflammation and hardening in your arteries. This can lead to heart attacks and stroke, which cause more deaths in smokers than all the cancers combined. Also on the list of non-cancer-related illnesses for smokers is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – or more specifically bronchitis or emphysema. For more information on myths and facts on lung cancer, click here. 



Using disposable plastic water bottles does not increase a person’s cancer risk. However, reusing plastic water bottles can potentially cause sickness (vomiting or diarrhea) because of germ growth. Some worry that DEHA, a well-known plasticizer used to make plastics less brittle, can leak out of the plastic into water. However, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, there is no proof that DEHA is cancerous (to see their full article, click HERE).



A lot of people don’t know this, but it turns out the odd Margarita Monday isn’t as harmless as you might think. According to the National Cancer Institute, the overconsumption of alcohol can affect a person’s risk for multiple cancers, including: head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer. For breast cancer risk, overconsumption can increase the levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Studies have also shown that women who drink three alcoholic drinks per week are at greater risk (15% higher) of developing breast cancer than women who don’t. This risk goes up another 10% with each additional drink consumed. For more information on alcohol consumption and cancer risk, check out this article by the National Cancer Institute.



Drinking too much coffee can contribute to other negative health effects – but cancer isn’t one of them. In 2016, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that drinking coffee does not increase your risk of developing cancer. On the other hand, according to the American Cancer Society, there are various studies that show that coffee may actually reduce a person’s risk for developing cancer. So, as always, moderation is key, as well as the implementation of other daily activities and practices that can reduce your risk. For the complete low down on caffeine (coffee) and cancer, check out this article by the American Cancer Society.



You might know that eating processed foods in general isn’t good for you, but did you know that they’re actually linked to cancer? According to an article by the American Cancer Society, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified processed meats as carcinogens. These include: hot dogs, bacon, ham, sausages, and some deli meats. Overall, eating 50 grams of processed meats each day was found to increase a person’s risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. As with most products mentioned so far, moderation is key. Enjoying a hot dog from time to time isn’t bad. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle when it comes to food and exercise is just as important in decreasing your risk.

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