The Simms/Mann - UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology is part of UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and UCLA Oncology. To find out more about research opportunities and medical oncology care, please visit these sites.


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Understanding Cancer Myths and Misconceptions

fact_mythCertain cancer myths have a way of spreading even though they are scientifically incorrect. The problem with this arises when people avoid good prevention and valuable treatment options based off of these myths and misconceptions.

Below are some commonly shared false beliefs to be aware of:

  • Cancer is a death sentence – Passing away from cancer has dropped steadily since the 1990s. In some cases, five-year survival rates for cancers like breast, prostate, and thyroid, now exceed 90 percent. For all cancers, the survival rate is currently at about 60 percent. It is important to remember that cancer rates differ depending on the individual and how advanced their cancer is and can be influenced by the care that they are receiving. More information on the “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer” is available here.
  • Eating sugar will make cancer worse – There is no research that shows that eating sugar will make your cancer worse, or not eating it will make your cancer go away. But obesity has been linked to developing several types of cancers, and a high-sugar diet can contribute to gaining excess weight. For personalized nutritional advice and to develop an individually tailored plan to optimize wellness, consider meeting with Simms/Mann Center’s Integrative Oncology Specialist Carolyn Katzin, MS, CNS, MNT. For more information, click here.
  • Positive or negative attitude will determine your risk of getting cancer or recovering from it – It is normal to have a mix of emotions if you have cancer. There is no scientific evidence that shows a connection between a person’s attitude and the risk of developing or worsening one’s cancer. A positive attitude may help in living a healthier lifestyle and finding emotional stability, which can provide a better environment for recovery during cancer treatments. To hear about how stress can affect cancer, you can watch our Insights Into Cancer lecture titled “Stress and Cancer: Myths, Evidence” by Dr. Steve Cole. Click here for the online video.
  • No one in my family has had cancer, so that means I am risk-free – This is not true. Recent data says that 40 percent of people will be diagnosed with cancer at some time during their lives. Environmental factors and lifestyle habits can play a part in people getting cancer, for example, radiation, and smoking cigarettes. To read additional information on risk factors in getting cancer, click here.

For a more detailed list of cancer myths and misconceptions on topics such as artificial sweeteners, contagion of cancer, cell phones, and the spread of cancer during sugery, visit National Cancer Institute’s article here.

It is important when a person is considering a non-traditional form of treatment to cancer that he/she takes the time to look into any potentially harmful side effects and check with reputable internet resources such as the American Cancer Society Complementary therapies may help ameliorate side effects of cancers and treatments, but there is no data to suggest that they should be used as alternatives to traditional medicine.   We also recommend that he/she speak with his/her doctor before making any drastic health decisions and consider a consultation with our integrative oncology specialist to help facilitate choices that are likely to be helpful rather than harmful.

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