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Most people consider themselves well-informed about cancer and know cancer facts such as… Smoking puts you at higher risk for lung cancer. Breast cancer can run in families. Excessive alcohol consumption raises the risk of cancer of the liver.
Then there are lesser-known facts about cancer that you might not be aware of. Many of these are surprising and some are downright scary. Education is key to protecting yourself and your loved ones from preventable causes of cancer.
Do You Know these 13 Facts About Cancer?
1. For men living in the United States, there is a 50% risk of developing cancer at some point in their lives. Risk factors are calculated from many criteria including family history of cancer, living environment, age, and habits including smoking and how they eat.
2. Over 28 million people worldwide have already survived cancer. For men, the highest survival rates are from treatment for prostate, colorectal, and melanoma cancers. For women, the highest survival rates are from breast, uterine, and colorectal cancers.
3. A compound derived from cannabis prevents cancer cells from spreading by forcing them to freeze. Cannabis compounds have been studied and found to be effective in stopping cancer metastasis in some aggressive cancers. Cannibadiol, a non-toxic derivative, effectively turned off the gene known to cause cancer to spread.
4. Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemical compounds and 70 of these are known carcinogens. Contained in a single cigarette are thousands of toxic chemicals like lead, tar, and arsenic. Some more familiar chemicals are acetone (nail polish remover), formaldehyde (embalming fluid), and even methanol (rocket fuel).
5. Fluoride promotes cancer. Research indicates a close connection between fluoride and an increased cancer risk. Fluoride has been linked to an increase in oral, bone, liver, thyroid, and other cancers. As it turns out, fluoride turns normal cells into cancer cells, increases tumor growth rate, and also increases cancer death rates.
6. Chemotherapy enriches and induces cancer stem cells. According to a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Cancer Research, and a 2009 Chinese study published in Bioscience Hypotheses, due to the imbalance of angiogenesis and insufficient blood supply in certain regions of the cancer tumor mass, chemotherapy actually transforms the bulk cancer cells to stem cells rather than kill them!
7. Tall women are more prone to getting cancer. Being tall doesn’t mean a woman is going to get cancer. But studies have found a correlation between above average height and an increased chance of developing cancer. Height may be one of the many factors that put a person at risk, and research shows it may be due to an increase in the growth hormone factor, known as insulin-like growth factor-1, or IGF-1.
8. At least three of the original “Marlboro Men” died from lung cancer. The Marlboro Man was an advertising gimmick to encourage more men to smoke the Philip Morris brand. Originally marketed to women, they wanted to aim their campaigns to men and the macho Marlboro Man was born. Before his death, one of the cowboys became an anti-smoking advocate, blaming Philip Morris for his habit. Though smoking ads are now banned in the United States, the Marlboro Man is still an advertising icon in Japan.
9. Prediabetes increases the chance of developing cancer by 15%. People diagnosed with prediabetes (with higher blood glucose levels not yet developed into diabetes) are at higher risk for developing cancer. Studies show that these people are most at risk for endometrial, stomach, liver, pancreatic, breast, and colorectal cancers.
10. Red wine prevents cancer. The resveratrol found in red wine can destroy damaged cells within the body and prevent them from becoming cancerous. It’s a fine line, however, because excess consumption of alcohol is also a cancer risk factor − especially for cancer of the head and neck.
11. Specially trained dogs can sniff out prostate cancer with 98% accuracy. It’s common knowledge that dogs possess powerful noses. Canines have been trained to track scents and find cadavers, but are now being used to detect cancer. In a prostate cancer study with 600 subjects, dogs correctly identified 98% of the positive cases. Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval is pending for the use of canine medical scent kits but questions remain about the use of dogs “in a clinical setting.”
12. Redheads are the most likely candidates for developing melanoma. People born with red hair typically also have very fair skin and freckles. Scientists have identified this as a genetic mutation. This mutation triggers another known genetic mutation and is believed to be the reason behind the higher rates of redheads developing the most deadly of skin cancers.
13. Airline pilots and flight attendants are more prone to developing skin cancer. Studies show pilots and flight attendants have a higher occurrence of melanoma. Percentages vary with a 10 times higher rate amongst all pilots and up to 25 times higher for pilots that flew regularly over five or more time zones. The cause is likely the combination of higher exposure to radiation and UV rays at flying altitudes and a disruption of the body’s circadian rhythms or sleep patterns.
Identify your personal risks and know the cancer facts. Preventing cancer, fighting cancer, and beating cancer starts with you!
Eating healthy, getting quality sleep, exercising regularly, and ensuring adequate hydration are essential to health and will lower your risk for many diseases. Cutting out bad habits and forming new, healthy habits is the key to enjoying the rest of your life on your own terms. Learn all the facts about cancer you can and then make the changes necessary to keep your body cancer-free.
Editor’s Note: This article was initially published in March 2016 and was updated in March 2022.
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Here are 13 lesser-known facts about cancer that you might not be aware of:
- For men living in the U.S., there is a 50% risk of developing cancer at some point in their lives.
- Over 28 million people worldwide have already survived cancer.
- A compound derived from marijuana prevents cancer cells from spreading by forcing them to freeze.
- Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemical compounds and 70 of these are known carcinogens.
- Fluoride promotes cancer. Research indicates a close connection between fluoride and an increased cancer risk.
- Chemotherapy actually enriches and induces cancer stem cells.
- Tall women are more prone to getting cancer.
- At least three of the original “Marlboro Men” died from lung cancer.
- Prediabetes increases the chance of developing cancer by 15%.
- Red wine prevents cancer.
- Specially trained dogs can sniff out prostate cancer with 98% accuracy.
- Redheads are the most likely candidates for developing melanoma.
- Airline pilots and flight attendants are more prone to developing skin cancer.
Cutting out bad habits and forming new, healthy habits is the key to enjoying the rest of your life on your own terms. Learn all the facts about cancer you can and make the necessary changes necessary to keep your body cancer-free.