Sausage, shampoo, mobile phone: 12 myths about carcinogens, in which it is impossible to believe

A healthy diet is not a panacea, and the sausage is not harmful, says “Lifehacker”.

Колбаса, шампунь, мобильный телефон: 12 мифов о канцерогенах, в которые нельзя верить

Photo: Shutterstock

The word “carcinogen” comes from the Latin cancer — “cancer”. This term refers to anything that can cause the formation of malignant tumors.

The notion has long been widely known. In many ways, so it is used haphazardly, often attributing carcinogenic properties of the substances or phenomena that are cancer are not connected. Or, on the contrary, counting the safe ones that actually threaten health. Versed in the most popular myths about carcinogens.

1. Carcinogens it’s only food

Not at all. Carcinogens is a broad concept, comprising all the objects that you can touch with your hands or to eat, and natural phenomena or other factors. They have in common only one thing: they all can lead to the development of cancer processes.

Trigger hooks for cancer, in addition to food, can be:

  • bad habits — Smoking, alcoholism;
  • natural factors — ultraviolet radiation, radon gas, the causative agents of certain infectious diseases (hepatitis C, human papillomavirus, Epstein‑Barr);
  • medical factors — different types of radiation, reception of certain medicines;
  • work in hazardous occupations, when the person is breathing toxic substances or she touches them;
  • contact with environmental pollutants — e.g. exhaust fumes and chemical emissions;
  • genetic features.

2. All carcinogens are dangerous and always cause cancer

In the list of carcinogens includes thousands of substances and phenomena. However, scientists still can not exactly say that this is the product or phenomenon will cause cancer and the other does not. To the body begins to develop a malignant neoplasm must match multiple conditions.

Some carcinogens are dangerous only for certain types of contact: for instance, it is not enough to touch — they must be inhaled or ingested. Also important dose, time of exposure, genetics whoever this influence is exposed, and other factors in which the scientists did not fully understand.

The result formed a paradoxical situation. Someone finds a throat cancer or lung a couple of years of daily Smoking. And the other smokes decades without any malignant consequences.

To predict which of the dangerous carcinogens in your case, and what you can give up, will not work. Too much depends on coincidence.

The only thing that can make each one of us, to try to reduce the impact of most of the carcinogens in the body to a minimum. However, this does not guarantee absolute protection against cancer.

3. If you avoid any kind of chemicals and maintain a healthy lifestyle, not get cancer

“That’s before people ate normal food, breathe clean air, not washed any chemistry and cancer they did not have!” Surely you’ve heard something. Many associate the Carcinogenicity of synthetic, artificially created substances or phenomena. But really there is no such connection.

The DNA mutations that trigger the development of cancer cells, is the result of perfectly natural factors: the monotonous food, the fungi living in some types of nuts and grains, separate infection.

Moreover, scientists from Johns Hopkins University found that two-thirds of the mutations leading to cancer occur because of random errors in copying natural DNA. And only the remaining part — under the influence of carcinogens.

“Cancers occur regardless of how healthy is your space,” says Bert Vogelstein, Professor of Oncology.

This is why cancer often affects even those who lead a healthy lifestyle: do not drink, does not smoke, lives in an ecologically clean area, eat the natural products, sports and watching weight.

4. In fruits, vegetables and nuts no carcinogens

Often think that because plant foods rich in antioxidants. So are substances that protect the body from free radicals that could cause mutations of DNA.

The fact that the plants contain potentially useful substances, does not make them uniquely secure.

The international Agency for research on cancer (IARC; the division of who) made a list of carcinogens. The continuously updated list can be detected and “plant” items. For example, a potentially carcinogenic are coconut oil and aloe.

Or a powerful carcinogen — aflatoxin. These dangerous compounds produced by mold fungus that settles on long stored grains and nuts, peanut butter.

As for fruit and vegetables, in any of them, even grown without fertilizers contain nitrates — salts of nitric acid required for development and growth. This natural substances that plants get from the soil. Getting into the human body, nitrates are converted into toxic nitrites, and those in the carcinogens nitrosamines.

The nitrate content in high-quality fruits and vegetables is small and therefore does not pose a serious danger. But plant foods that were grown with nitrogen fertilizers, the concentration of these salts can be enhanced.

Another risk factor is pesticides. These chemicals to control weeds are carcinogens and are associated with the development, in particular leukemia, brain cancer, prostate, kidneys.

5. If you drink a lot of coffee may develop cancer

Indeed, coffee is included in the list of carcinogens by the IARC. But then it is better to look at what constitutes this list.

All substances and influences that have studied MAIR is assigned a special numerical code that indicates the degree of danger.

  • 1 — carcinogenic to humans.
  • 2A and 2B — potentially carcinogenic to humans. Category A (“with a high probability of causing cancer”) the risk is higher than In (“may cause cancer”). In both cases, the conclusions made on the basis of the limited number of studies, therefore, are not considered final.
  • 3 — not classified as carcinogenic to humans. This means that any evidence of a link between chemicals and cancer in people no, but in studies involving animals it is sometimes seen.
  • 4 — non-carcinogenic to humans.

Coffee belongs to the category 3: not carcinogenic to humans.

6. If you eat meat and sausage, will definitely get cancer

But this application has a more solid Foundation. Red meat (pork, beef) in the classification of IARC is included in category 2A. And meat products — sausages, sausages, smoked and even has code 1. In the same group are such well-known carcinogens like cigarette smoke, and solar x-ray radiation, exhaust gases and, for example, plutonium.

But really the sunlight and ham or beef jerky as harmful as x-rays and plutonium?

Of course not. As explained by the who, if the substances or effects of the same category, this does not mean that they are equally dangerous. The IARC classification reflects only the degree of credibility of the scientific evidence that a given factor causes cancer. But does not assess the risks, i.e. the frequency and rate of DNA mutations.

So, the link with meat and cancer (specifically colorectal) installed. But to oncological processes meat products lead not quickly and not always: a lot depends on how many steaks or sausages you eat.

According to who, daily consumption of 50 grams of meat products increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18% compared with those who eat less. However, the who calls not to abandon red and processed meat at all, but only to reduce its quantity in the diet, rightly pointing out that animal protein is important for health.

To reduce the risks enough to eat no more than 50-70 grams of meat or sausage per day.

And, as mentioned above, food is not a major factor in the development of cancer.

7. The main carcinogen is the stress and resentment

The myth of the psychosomatic nature of cancer is very common. Someone believes that cancer cause the accumulated and unexpressed resentments. Others call cancer “the self-destruction of those who could not learn to love yourself.”

However, no scientific evidence that resentment, stress and any other negative (and positive) emotions could lead to DNA mutations do not exist.

Another issue is that people experiencing constant stress, often acquire bad habits — smoke, drink, overeat, restrict physical activity. This lifestyle actually increases the risk of development of oncological processes. This speaks directly to the who as the most frequent behavioral causes of death from cancer following calls:

  • high body mass index;
  • the low intake of fruit and vegetables.
  • the lack of physical activity;
  • Smoking and alcohol use.

Conclusion: it is necessary to be afraid not so much stress and resentment, how much of an unhealthy lifestyle in General.

8. If frying food on a Teflon pan (especially scratched), the dish becomes carcinogenic

This myth has some Foundation. For the production of Teflon non-stick coatings are sometimes used materials containing perfluorooctane acid (PFOA) — a likely carcinogen (group 2A in the IARC classification). When heated this substance theoretically can be released into the air.

In practice, however, confirm the danger of such a coating has failed. For example, Robert walk, a chemistry Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and author of “What Einstein told his cook”, reminds: manufacture of nonstick cookware is a long process which involves including heating to higher temperatures. So all of perfluorooctanoic acid leaves the coating before pan gets to the store.

“In the final Teflon product PFOA is missing, so there is no risk that the utensils will cause cancer in those who use it,” said Robert walk, a chemistry Professor, in a commentary for the publication of WebMD.

In a study published in the journal Food Additives and Contaminants, scientists tested 26 non-stick pots and pans. They warmed them up to 250 °C for 30 minutes and have not been found harmful substances, either in ambient air or in cooked dishes.

The only negative effect is the possible emergence of flu-like symptoms if you inhale strongly superheated vapors of the coating. As stated by the American cancer society, other proven health risks when using Teflon cookware no.

9. A microwave oven adds carcinogens to food

A microwave heats food, but does not change its chemical or molecular structure. And the more microwave radiation does not alter the DNA in your cells — at least for the simple reason that it is inside the oven, and you on the outside.

Some people are afraid to stand near a working microwave. But who keeps repeating: healthy oven safe, and their radiation outside of the closed doors tends to zero. If still worried, just move half a meter from the device is switched on: at this distance the level of even minimal radiation, which theoretically can be fixed near the door, will decrease a hundred times.

10. Radiation from mobile phones causes cancer

There are as yet no studies that have established the link between cell phone usage and tumor development.

But scientists are reinsured. Therefore, IARC has classified the entire spectrum of radiofrequency radiation, part of which are mobile signals as “possibly carcinogenic” (class 2B). For comparison: this group includes pickled vegetables and talcum powder.

11. Conventional shampoos contain carcinogens, so you should switch to organic

The ability to cause cancer is most often attributed to sodium lauryl and sodium Laureth sulfate — surface‑active substances (surfactants), which are part of many shampoos, shower gels, foams for washing, dishwashing detergent and other detergents. And it’s outright misleading.

No sodium lauryl or sodium Laureth sulfate are not included in the list of carcinogens by the IARC and in a similar list drawn up by the Agency for environmental protection of the United States. So to move to more expensive (and not always effective) organic cosmetics exclusively for fear of cancer not the slightest sense.

12. There are ways not to deal with carcinogens

It is unlikely. Carcinogenic effect even sunlight, tea or drinking water.

“In the fourth category, the list of IARC, the category of proved vacanzeromane, there is only one substance — caprolactam, used for making tights. All other substances in the world, in varying degrees, include this Agency to carcinogens,” — said Alexey Vodovozov, doctor-therapist of the highest category, in an interview with YouTube channel НаукаPRO.

Therefore, to completely avoid contact with carcinogens will not work. No matter how you tried.

But there is good news. With many carcinogens we encounter in metered quantities and are not under their influence for a long time. This means that the risk that they can hurt, not so great.

The best thing to do is to stop thinking about how much of the carcinogens contained in the toast, or, say, hair dye, and focus on things that are stronger and longer impact on our lives:

  • To quit Smoking.
  • Take care of nutrition.
  • To increase physical activity and to normalize weight.
  • To monitor the health regularly undergo preventive medical examinations.

This is really important.

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