Things You Think Cause Cancer But Don’t

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Seems like every day we hear about something else that will kill us. Today, you get to read about the things you thought were deadly—but are harmless. Read on for more!


Plastic water bottles

Back in the 2000s, you might have read that plastic contains diethylhexyl adipate (DEHA), a supposed carcinogen. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), DEHA is not always in the plastic used to make water bottles—and even if it was, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says DEHA “cannot reasonably be anticipated to cause cancer.”

Likewise, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) doesn’t list DEHA as a carcinogen. Meanwhile, concerns about possible hormone-disruptors such as BPA (bisphenol A), also used to make plastic, persist. And other chemicals found in plastic water bottles have yet to be granted an “all clear.”


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Microwaving plastics

For years, people have been afraid to microwave foods in plastic containers and plastic wrap under the mistaken impression that it will release cancer-causing chemicals into their food.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strictly regulates plastic food containers and approves the ones marked “microwave safe.” This means the plastic is free of DEHA and dioxins, according to the ACS. Plastic containers not marked “microwave safe” should not be put in the microwave.


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Microwaving anything

Some people are still suspicious of microwaves, believing the cooking method makes food radioactive. Not so, according to the ACS. The group explains, “Microwave ovens can cook food, but they do not otherwise change the chemical or molecular structure of it.”

Not so fast, say the suspicious-minded person: Doesn’t a microwave emit radiation? It does not: “Microwave ovens are designed so that the microwaves are contained within the oven itself,” the ACS states. When used according to instructions, there is no evidence they pose a health risk to people.


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Dryer sheets

Dryer sheets soften your clothes and eliminate static cling—while they silently give you cancer… Wait, what? Not so fast: The unscented sheets appear to be safe.

However, the scented versions may contain a toxic chemical, according to the National Academy of Sciences. If you’re concerned, consider using unscented sheets or switch to a brand that discloses fragrance components; Seventh Generation, for example, uses only essential oils.


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Artificial sweeteners

While some early research found a link between artificial sweeteners and bladder cancer in laboratory animals, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports that further research failed to confirm the findings.

However, everyone could benefit from cutting back on the sweet stuff: Artificial sweeteners can be harmful to your health by messing with your metabolism and raising your risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.


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Lucky Charms

Lucky Charms and other cereals may contain glyphosate, a weed-killer found in products like Roundup, according to a report by the Environmental Working Group. (Glyphosate has been linked to cancer by California state scientists and the World Health Organization.)

They tested 61 samples of products made with oats including Lucky Charms and Cheerios and found traces of Roundup, although the levels were well under what the Environmental Protection Agency considers dangerous. Lucky Charms three times a day is probably not a good idea. Once in a while probably won’t hurt you.


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Candy canes

You may have heard that candy canes contain titanium dioxide. “This is used in many products to make foods look whiter,” says Patricia Rich, MD Medical Oncology Director at the Cancer Treatment Center of America (CTCA) Lung Cancer Institute and the Vice Chief of Staff at CTCA Atlanta. (It’s also an ingredient in many mineral-based sunscreens).

“It is a potential carcinogen, but titanium dioxide does not pose a risk to consumers through food like candy canes.” If the fine dust is inhaled in high amounts, however, titanium dioxide could damage the respiratory tract, she says. Another potential cancer-causing culprit in candy canes is Red 40 dye – which gives canes their red stripes, she says.

“It is known to be cancerous, but the US Food and Drug Administration regulates this dye it so can be used for certain things in certain amounts and not be considered cancerous,” she says. “Candy canes are one of these things.”That said, overdoing it on sugar can increase the risk of obesity which is linked to the development of many cancers.”

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