Does This Cause Cancer?

Artificial Sweeteners

Despite all the talk — and chain emails — there’s no proof that these sugar stand-ins raise your risk of cancer. Saccharine did cause cancer in rats, but their bodies react to it differently than ours, researchers say. There hasn’t been a cancer warning label on it since 2000. A study of aspartame in people found no link either.

X-rays

Your dentist covers you in a lead blanket for a reason. Even low doses of X-rays raise your chances of getting cancer, but only by a small amount. In general, the higher the dose of radiation, the more the risk. But there’s no amount of this kind of radiation that’s totally safe. That’s why the EPA limits how much you can get.

Cell Phones

This gadget, which you keep near all the time, gives off the same type of energy as microwave ovens. So far, it hasn’t been linked to cancer, but more research is needed. Just to be safe:

  • Save it for short chats or when there’s no landline.
  • Use a hands-free device.

Meat

Whether it’s processed or red, you need less of it in your life. Just one hot dog a day could boost your chances of getting colon cancer.  Luncheon meats, cold cuts, and hot dogs all have preservatives called nitrites, which cause cancer. Smoking meats or cooking them at a high temperature creates compounds called PAHs. Studies are under way to see how they affect people.

Bottled Water

If your bottle is clear plastic, it probably has bisphenol A (BPA). This chemical is used in food and drink containers, dental sealants, and other products. Does it cause cancer? The FDA says no, BPA is safe at current levels found in foods. If you’re concerned, avoid canned foods and store chow and drinks in clear plastic. For hot food, use glass or steel instead.

Sex

It’s true. Human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection, can cause cervical and other cancers. Most adults who have sex will get this virus at some point. But they won’t all get cancer. Most of the time, HPV goes away by itself. To lower your risk:

  • Get vaccinated if you’re a female aged 11-26 or a male aged 11-21.
  • Use condoms during sex.
  • Have sex with only one partner.

Dental Fillings

Don’t call the dentist to have your metal filings removed and replaced. Experts say your current ones are safe. Studies have found no link between fillings with mercury and cancer — or any other disease.

Coffee

If you feel your day doesn’t really start until you’ve had a shot of caffeine, you’ll love this. New research shows that drinking moderate amounts of coffee (around four cups daily) lessens the risk of some types of cancer, among them skin, liver, and colon.

Deodorant and Antiperspirant

Scientists say more research is needed to know for sure if these products boost the odds of breast cancer. They have different jobs — deodorant blocks the smell and antiperspirant stops sweat. Many use chemicals that act like the hormone estrogen, which causes cancer cells to grow. These include benzylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben.

Fluoride

This compound is found in water and other drinks and in food, toothpastes, and mouth rinses. Though many studies have looked for links between it and cancer, most researchers says there’s no strong tie. If you’re worried about it, you can ask the Environmental Protection Agency how much is in your drinking water. If it’s high, switch to bottled spring water, which usually has the least.

Household Products

Many pesticides, paints, varnishes, and waxes give off gases known as volatile organic compounds  (VOCs). So do some cleaning, cosmetic, automotive, and hobby products. These gases have been linked to cancer in humans and animals. To cut your risk choose products labeled low-VOC and biodegradable when possible. Avoid items labeled as:

  • Danger/Poison
  • Corrosive
  • Severely Irritating
  • Highly Flammable
  • Highly Combustible
  • Strong Sensitizer

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