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American Cancer Society says cancer myths run rampant

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - ''A vast amount of information is on the Internet - much of it questionable and confusing - and it leads to cancer myths that, if believed, could cause a great deal of harm,'' said Roberta Cahill, American Cancer Society health coordinator in South Dakota. Cahill is Yankton Sioux and works to promote cancer education and awareness to diverse populations.

Here are a few cancer myths:

Myth: Ultraviolet rays from tanning beds are harmless.

Truth: According to the American Cancer Society, UV rays from tanning beds are NOT harmless. Tanning lamps give out UVA and frequently UVB rays as well. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause serious long-term skin damage, and both contribute to skin cancer. Because of these dangers, people should avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.

Myth: Chewing tobacco or smoking cigars is safer than smoking cigarettes.

Truth: Smokeless tobacco can cause oral cancer. Also, cigar smoking can increase the risks of lung, mouth, throat and esophageal cancer, just as cigarette smoking does.

Myth: Aluminum in antiperspirants causes breast cancer.

Truth: According to the American Cancer Society, there is no strong scientific evidence to support this statement. In fact, a study published in 2002 compared 813 women with breast cancer against 793 women without and found no relationship between breast cancer risk and use of antiperspirant, deodorant or underarm shaving habits. Women are asked not to wear antiperspirant during a mammogram because aluminum in some products can show up on the X-ray.

Myth: Cell phones emit radiation that can cause brain cancer.

Truth: While a few studies have suggested a possible link between cell phones and certain rare brain tumors, several large population studies have not shown any evidence to support this claim. The ACS says that cellular phone use is not likely to cause brain cancer.

Myth: Men can't get breast cancer.

Truth: Cases are rare, but breast cancer can and does affect men. The American Cancer Society predicts that 2,030 men will be diagnosed with the disease in 2007. Whether you are male or female, any change - especially growths - in the breast or armpit should be brought to a doctor's attention for examination and diagnosis.

Myth: Wearing an underwire bra can cause cancer by restricting the lymphatic system.

Truth: According to the American Cancer Society, no valid studies show a connection between wearing bras of any type and the occurrence of breast cancer.

''High-quality, credible information is generally unbiased and provided by recognized health experts,'' Cahill said. ''The American Cancer Society can help you separate cancer facts from fiction. For the truth about cancer, visit www.cancer.org or call (800) ACS-2345.''

This year in the United States, 1.4 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer.

For more information on this article, contact Charlotte Hofer, manager of media relations - South Dakota, American Cancer Society, at (605) 323-3553 or Charlotte.hofer@cancer.org.