A survey was conducted with 13-24 year olds to reveal the top 20 cancer myths believed by teenagers and young adults throughout the UK.
Results showed young people worryingly believe toilet seats, being fat, kissing and a kick in the balls can all give you cancer.
New Teenage Cancer Trust ambassador Jameela Jamil supported our findings and along with a member of our education team undertook radio and online media interviews.
Jameela Jamil and Amy Harding talk cancer myths
The top 20 cancer myths
The top 20 cancer myths believed by teenagers and young adults in the UK, answered...
We are all born with the cancer gene
False: Some people are born with genetic mutations but there needs to be a number of these within a cell before it becomes cancerous. Although a mutation at the start of your life can mean it is more likely statistically that a person will develop cancer during their lifetime which doctors call a 'genetic predisposition' at the same time it doesn't always mean they will definitely be diagnosed with cancer.
You are never really cured of cancer
False: If you have been in remission for ten years then you are considered cured of cancer.
Mobile phones give you brain tumours
False: There is currently no firm evidence that using a mobile phone will increase your risk of developing a brain tumour or any other type of cancer. There is also no evidence of an increase in cancer incidences of cancer in the bone or tissue in the hands from holding mobile phones whilst in use.
Living near electricity pylons causes cancer
False: Currently there is insufficient evidence that magnetic fields from power lines have the capacity to cause cancer. This is not to suggest there is absolutely no possibility of a casual link between the two but research cannot yet scientifically link the two as cause and effect.
Skin colour is a factor in getting cancer
False: However having a fair complexion and skin that burns easily or does not tan can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
Cancer makes your hair fall out
False: It is chemotherapy treatment that can make your hair fall out, not the cancer itself. Chemotherapy is toxic and acts by killing cells that divide rapidly, one of the main properties of most cancer cells. This means that as well as killing the bad cells it also kills the good cells which results in the most commonly known side effects of chemotherapy— hair loss.
Eating red meat gives you cancer
False: Generally speaking red meat does not give you cancer, however eating high amounts of red or processed meat on a very regular basis can increase your risk. Bowel and stomach cancer are more common in people who eat lots of red and processed meat. Red meat includes all fresh, minced and frozen beef, pork, lamb or veal. Processed meats have been preserved in some way other than freezing and include bacon, ham, salami, sausages, spam, corned beef, black pudding, pâté and tinned meat. The way you cook meat may increase cancer risk. Certain chemicals are made when red and processed meats are cooked at high temperatures, such as on a barbeque. These chemicals can damage our cells, making them more likely to become cancerous.
If you have cancer when you're pregnant your baby will get it.
False: A barrier between the mother's and the baby's body blocks any cancer cells from entering the baby or its blood supply.
Keeping your mobile phone in your bra gives you breast cancer
False: Currently, there is no firm evidence that keeping a mobile phone in your bra will increase your risk of developing breast cancer. However we would always recommend that it is more comfortable keeping your phone in your bag or in a pocket.
Getting kicked in the testicles gives you testicular cancer
False: Although this will undoubtedly hurt, it doesn’t cause cancer. Typically, testicular cancer produces a painless swelling of one testicle, a swelling which cannot be distinguished from the testicle itself by examination. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men aged between 18 and 35 and because it can prove serious if neglected and left untreated, any lump in the scrotum that is new and abnormal should always be reported urgently to the doctor. Testicular cancer is often diagnosed whilst being examined for sports injuries.
If you don’t inhale when you smoke you won’t get cancer
False: Smoking is a major risk factor for lung cancer, but also increases the risk of mouth cancer, pharyngeal cancer and cancer of the larynx as smoke passes over these areas as it is breathed in. Smoking also increases the risk of cancer of the oesophagus and stomach cancer. The amount you smoke, the age you started and the longer you keep on smoking, are all factors in your risk of getting cancer.
You can catch cancer from toilet seats
False: Cancer cannot be transmitted through sitting on a toilet seat. Cancer is not contagious and cannot be caught from somebody else. However, the HPV virus which is linked to cervical cancer, can be passed between people through sexual activity.
You can get cancer from eating coloured Jelly Babies sweets
False: All food colourings have to pass strict food regulations so it is unlikely that they can cause cancer. However, although strict food regulations such as those in UK and EU, and Australia pass these colours as safe for use with food, there is a growing minority who believe the effects of colourings have not been well enough researched and consider their use an unnecessary risk.
Being fat gives you cancer
False: However cancer experts estimate that maintaining a healthy bodyweight, making changes to our diet and taking regular physical activity could prevent about one in three deaths from cancer in the UK. In the western world, many of us eat too much red and processed meat and not enough fresh fruit and vegetables. This type of diet is known to increase the risk of cancer. Drinking alcohol can also increase the risk of developing some types of cancer. Overweight or obese people have an increased risk of bowel cancer and pancreatic cancer and this could be because they tend to have higher insulin levels.
You can catch cancer from kissing
False: You cannot catch cancer through kissing. Cancer is not contagious and cannot be caught from somebody else. However, the HPV virus which is linked to cervical cancer, can be passed between people through sexual activity.
You always die from cancer
False: As with all cancers, if it is diagnosed quickly and treatment begins quickly, then it may be easier to treat.
You can get cancer from eating too much tomato ketchup
False: In fact, there has been a lot of interest in whether eating certain foods might reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. There is some evidence that eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, such as tomatoes, can protect against cancer. Fruit and vegetables contain a wide variety of nutrients and are high in fibre and scientists are fairly sure that vitamins A and C and folate play an important role in protecting against cancer.
Only babies get leukemia
False: Although leukemia is the most common childhood cancer, teenagers and adults are also diagnosed with it. Different cancers predominate at different ages in young people and leukaemia is one of the most common in 13 to 18 year-olds.
Only old people get cancer
False: It doesn’t matter what age you are, we are all at risk of cancer. Every day in the UK, six young people aged between13-24 are diagnosed with cancer and the numbers are rising. However, it is true that most types of cancer become more common as we get older, as cells take a long time to develop and there has to be a number of changes to the genes within a cell before it turns into a cancer cell. The longer we live, the more time there is for genetic mistakes to happen in our cells.
Masturbation causes cancer
False: Masturbation does not cause cancer to grow.
Young people's stories
Learn more about what young people feel about having cancer, what they go through and how they cope by reading these personal stories from young people with cancer from across the UK.More