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“Don’t stand too close to a microwave – you’ll get cancer!”
“You use antiperspirants? Don’t you know that causes cancer?”
We’ve all heard these claims. But are they true?
Thanks to the Cancer FactFinder, an online resource examining myths and misinformation about cancer, you can determine what is fact and what is fiction.
The Cancer FactFinder
Led by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Zhu Family Center for Global Cancer Prevention, and the Center for Cancer Equity & Engagement, the Cancer FactFinder provides accurate and reliable information about what does and does not cause cancer.
The resource is available in 9 different languages, including English and Spanish, because health misinformation affects everyone, especially Latinos.
Users can search more than 60 topics on the website, such as “Red Meat,” “Stress,” and “Hormone Replacement Therapy.”
Information is also organized by category, such as consumer products, diet and nutrition, and lifestyle.
For each cancer-causing claim, scientific evidence-based information is used to explain:
- What you may have heard about the myth;
- What science tells us;
- How to reduce your risk for cancer;
- What this means to you; and
- Sources and links for more information.
Further, each claim also comes with an interpretation of the team’s findings about a claim’s accuracy:
- Most likely or definitely true: There is sufficient evidence to suggest that the claim is true.
- False – misinformation: There is sufficient evidence to suggest that the claim is false.
- We’re not sure yet – scientists are still working on it: There is not sufficient evidence to say whether the claim is or isn’t true.
As science progresses, the team will continuously update the website with new topics and add additional information to existing topics.
“We created this site to give people ready access to accurate information about cancer so they can make informed choices to avoid certain exposures or to take positive steps to maximize their health,” according to the Cancer FactFinder website.
Why Addressing Health Misinformation is Important
Cancer isn’t the only disease of which misinformation is spread.
False rumors about HIV/AIDS and Ebola have challenged public health officials for decades.
Health misinformation can cause significant harm and was even declared an urgent threat to public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The only way to address health misinformation is to recognize that all of us, in every sector of society, have a responsibility to act,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said in a 2021 press release regarding health misinformation. “But it’s not just an individual responsibility. We need institutions to recognize that this issue is their moral and civic responsibility, too, and that they are accountable.”
Learn About Health in Your Area
You can address health misinformation and promote health equity for Latinos and all people by selecting your county and getting a Health Equity Report Card by Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio.
In your report card, you will see maps, data, and gauges to compare health equity issues and cancer incidence rates to the rest of your state and nation.
You can email your Health Equity Report Card to local leaders to stimulate community change. Use the data in your materials or share on social media to raise awareness.