Young people * Healthy living

Top 20 cancer myths revealed

Top 20 cancer myths revealed Toilet seats, jelly babies, etc

Toilet seats, jelly babies, being kicked in the goolies and kissing are just some of the things which young people believe can give you cancer, a poll by a teenage cancer charity found.

The survey of 520 young people aged between 13 and 24 also found that they believed living near electricity pylons, keeping a mobile phone tucked in your bra and being fat also give you cancer.

However, the most popular cancer myth, believed by 53 per cent of young people questioned, was that everyone is "born with the cancer gene." The second most popular cancer myth, believed by 37 per cent, was "you are never really cured of cancer."

One in three of those questioned by the Teenage Cancer Trust also thought that "mobile phones cause brain tumours."

Other myths included the belief that pregnant cancer patients pass the disease to their unborn babies, and cancer makes your hair fall out (some types of chemotherapy can cause this, not cancer itself).

The results of the poll comes as latest figures show that nearly eight out of ten children survive cancer compared with just three out of ten forty years ago.

Nowadays, around 80 per cent of children are cured of leukaemia compared to less than 10 per cent in the 1960's.

The cancer charity released the results of the poll to mark its 20th anniversary this month. Simon Davies, chief executive of Teenage Cancer Trust, said: “Cancer is a complex and frightening disease so it is easy to understand why such strange myths exist.

"We have come a long way in the last 20 years and I’m proud to say that we now lead the world in the treatment of young people with cancer."

Top 20 cancer myths

  1. We are all born with the cancer gene (53%)

  2. You are never really cured of cancer (37%)

  3. Mobile phones cause brain tumours (36%)

  4. Living near electricity pylons gives you cancer (35%)

  5. The colour of your skin determines your cancer risks (22%)

  6. Having cancer makes your hair fall out (22%)

  7. Eating red meat gives you cancer (20%)

  8. If you have cancer when pregnant, your baby will get it (19%)

  9. Keeping a mobile phone in your bra gives you breast cancer (15%)

  10. Getting kicked in the testicles gives you testicular cancer (12%)

  11. If you don’t inhale when smoking you won’t get cancer (12%)

  12. You can catch cancer from toilet seats (9%)

  13. Eating coloured jelly babies gives you cancer (8%)

  14. Being fat gives you cancer (7%)

  15. You can catch cancer from kissing (6%)

  16. You always die from cancer (5%)

  17. Eating too much tomato ketchup gives you cancer (4%)

  18. Only babies get leukaemia (4%)

  19. Only old people get cancer (3%)

  20. Too much masturbation gives you cancer (3%)

This article was published on Fri 12 November 2010

Image © Arto -

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