Some believe cancer is incurable, quite a few think it is contagious and many others feel it can be caused by eating certain foodstuff - myths like these expose our lack of knowledge about the much-feared disease and hence delay our seeking treatment at the right time.
Early detection and treatment can aid in the cure of the disease in many cases.
Many myths are associated with cancer, but adapting to a healthy lifestyle can help people keep it at bay.
India has more than 3 million cancer patients, and these figures paint a dismal picture of the cancer scenario.
So, here are some of the myths that you must be aware of regarding cancer, its detection and treatment, have a look.
Myth: People with cancer shouldn't eat sugar, since it can cause cancer cells to grow faster.
Sugar doesn't make cancer cells grow faster. All cells, including cancer cells, depend on blood sugar (glucose) for energy. But giving more sugar to cancer cells doesn't speed up their growth. Likewise, depriving cancer cells of sugar doesn't slow their growth.
However, cancer doesn't appear only with carbohydrates. Normal body tissues require carbohydrates for their daily function. Omitting carbs from the diet can be more disastrous to your health.
Myth: Cancer is a death sentence.
How long an individual cancer patient will live and whether he or she will die from the disease depends on many factors, including type of cancer, whether it is slow or fast growing, how much the cancer has spread in the body, whether effective treatments are available, the person's overall health, and most importantly how early the detection and medical intervention was done.
Also Read: Simple Guide To Understand Cancer
Myth: Superfoods prevent cancer.
Blueberries, beetroot, broccoli, garlic, green tea... the list goes on. Despite thousands of websites claiming otherwise, there's no such thing as a 'superfood', at least when it comes to treating cancer.
That's not to say you shouldn't think about what you eat. Some foods are clearly healthier than others. Stocking up on fruits and vegetables can be a healthy and well-balanced diet.
Myth: Use of plastic containers and wraps to microwave food releases harmful, cancer-causing substances into the food.
Microwave-safe plastic containers and wraps are safe to be used in the microwave.
But, plastic containers not intended for use in the microwave could melt and potentially leak the chemicals into your food. So, avoid using such containers that were never intended for the microwave use, such as margarine tubs, take-out containers or whipped topping bowls. Check to see that any container you use in the microwave is labelled as microwave safe.
Myth: Undergoing cancer treatment means one cannot lead a normal life or work.
It is often believed that a person undergoing cancer treatment cannot lead a normal life or work. First aim of any cancer treatment is to achieve a good cure rate. Second aim is to make the patient lead a normal, socially acceptable and productive life. There have been so many cases where women after getting cured of cancer have delivered a baby.
Public figures like Yuvraj Singh and Manisha Koirala have set an example of leading a normal and healthy work life after being treated of cancer.
Myth: Treatment of cancer is painful.
Treatment of cancer is not painful per se. The medicines used to treat cancer are called chemotherapeutic drugs. Administration of chemotherapy is not at all painful. It is given like an intravenous saline.
Targeted chemotherapy also does not have any major adverse effects. Even if the drugs have side effects like nausea, vomiting or change of taste, there are better medicines available nowadays to control and mitigate the adverse effects of chemotherapy.
MD General Medicine, Manipal University, DM, Cancer Institute, Adyar.
With over 10 years of experience, Dr. Neelesh Reddy is currently the Consultant, Medical Oncologist at the Columbia Asia Hospitals, Bangalore.