Cancer itself is pretty common – 1 in 3 people get it at some point during their lives. But cancer in young people is much rarer, with less than 1% of all cancer cases affecting 15-24-year-olds. So if you’re that age and have cancer, it’s no surprise if you’re feeling hard done by. Cancer sucks.
You read about why getting cancer is definitely not your fault in our causes of cancer section. But here we want to bust some of the big cancer myths. All of these came up in a recent Teenage Cancer Trust survey on the top 20 myths – and all of them are wrong.
Things that don’t cause cancer
Many causes of cancer are still unknown – but none of these are guilty.
Nothing to worry about here. From a quick peck to a full-on tongue twister, you’re fine. You can catch the HPV virus through sex, though – and that’s linked to cervical cancer – so that’s another reason to stay safe in bed.
Getting kicked in the balls
A boot to the knackers might make you wheeze, wince and want to cry, but it won’t give you cancer. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 18-35, though, so check for lumps and get anything weird checked out.
Sitting on the loo
Trains. Festivals. Clubs. Not nice places to sit on the loo. But however minging they are, toilets won’t give you cancer. You can’t catch cancer from other people.
Eating… too much ketchup
We’re not sure how this one started, but if you like ketchup with your chips, don’t sweat it. In fact, there’s some evidence that eating lots of fruit and veg – including tomatoes – protects against cancer. The chips aren’t so good though…
Eating… jelly babies
Good news – you can eat jelly babies. Preferably not every day, but all food colourings in the UK need to pass strict tests to make sure they’re safe. Some people think more research still needs to be done into this, but right now you’re OK to put some jelly in your belly.
Do you risk getting cancer if you use a mobile phone? No – there’s no evidence to suggest that. Do you risk walking into a lamppost and hurting yourself if you text while walking? Yes – so mind how you go.
Keeping your phone in your bra
Like to keep things close to your chest? Don’t worry – it won’t cause cancer. Probably best to take it out before making any video calls, though.
Living near electricity pylons
Tricky one this. There’s not enough evidence to suggest the magnetic fields around power lines can cause cancer. But that’s not to say there’s absolutely no risk – it’s just that scientists can’t prove there’s a definite connection.
Nope, you’re fine. No cancer risk here either.
Cancer myths busted
You hear all sorts of stories about cancer – none of the ones below are true.
Cancer makes your hair fall out
A lot of people get this one wrong. It’s not cancer that makes hair fall out – it’s chemotherapy.
You’re never really cured of cancer
Not true. After ten years in remission, you’re considered cured.
You always die from cancer
This one isn’t true either – just ask all the young people we’ve worked with who are fully recovered and well again.
If you don’t inhale, you won’t get cancer
This one’s dangerous, because smoking can cause cancer – however you do it. Lung cancer gets talked about most, but smoking also increases the risk of mouth cancer and throat cancer – whether you inhale or not. Smoking is bad for you – no ifs, no buts.
If you have cancer when you’re pregnant, your baby can get cancer
Amazing thing – the placenta. It helps unborn babies get oxygen and nutrients. It takes away waste products. And it stops cancer cells passing from mums to foetuses, meaning babies are kept safe from cancer. Brilliant.
We’re all born with the cancer gene
Wrong again. Some people are born with genetic mutations that increase their risk of getting cancer. But even having these mutations doesn’t guarantee you’ll get cancer.
Only babies get leukaemia
Nope – it’s the most common cancer in children aged 0-14, but older teenagers and adults get it too. In fact, 9 out of 10 cases are diagnosed in adults.
Only old people get cancer
If you’ve spent any time on this website, you’ll know this one isn’t true. The older you get, the more likely you are to get cancer, but seven young people aged 13-24 are diagnosed with cancer every day in the UK. We’re here to make their lives better.