Often in the mainstream media, we are beset by medical advice, tips and sometimes seemingly blatant terror-inducing shock stories about our health and lifestyle. One of the biggest offenders is “-random thing- found to cause cancer”. You’ve most likely seen or heard one of these before – ordinary everyday item which is in everyone’s life and has sometimes an important role in it – becomes the target for cancer-inspired fear propaganda. An innocuous item becomes a carcinogenic danger.
Many objects and practices are subject to this. Some of these things which have been labelled as evil are red meat, certain vegetables, plastics, oral sex, and mobile phones, while wine has been labelled as both protective against cancer and a carcinogen. Red wine, in particular, enjoys a modern folklore about destroying ‘free radicals’. Speaking of protection against cancer, much of the media’s hype about cancer extends to things which protect against it.
I have to wonder, are we over-medicalising our lifestyles? Or maybe, given one of the other recent media hypes, that “this generation will live a shorter lifespan than the previous, for the first time ever”, we’re not paying enough attention? Definitely, though, pedantically spasming every time the news reports that your favourite vegetable or smartphone will kill you, is pointless. Perhaps it even induces stress, a health risk in itself, which the media could be blamed for, but that’s another issue entirely.
Perhaps the real carcinogens are chemicals used to produce many products, or the lack of safety checks put into the design process.
Some things, such as cigarettes and smoking in general, are definitely cancer-causing, and while this should not be disputed, more effort should be put into making sure that the next big danger is indeed dangerous.
Another common pitfall that is noticeable is that the said carcinogenic objects or practices are “linked” to cancer – but what does this really mean? Something being “linked” to cancer merely means that it has an association. For example, chemotherapy is linked to cancer, but that does not mean chemotherapy causes cancer.
Cancer, however, remains a very real danger, and I encourage everyone to donate to anti-cancer charities. Hopefully one day, with enough research, we will be able to say with clarity and certainty what causes cancer and what does not.