IT can often seem like just about anything can give you cancer.
The latest culprit is fruit juice, with researchers warning that just one glass a day could raise your risk of the disease.
6 Researchers are now warning that just one glass of orange juice a day could raise your risk of developing cancerCredit: Alamy
6 Juice joins a long list of supposed cancer-causing nasties, with researchers putting everything from underarm deodorants to burnt toast on the naughty stepCredit: Getty – Contributor
Juice joins a long list of supposed cancer-causing nasties, with researchers putting everything from underarm deodorants to burnt toast on the naughty step.
The sheer volume of stories can be baffling; how on earth are you meant to live a life free from the risk of cancer?
It’s even worse for us doctors. Just suppose there is an 18 per cent increased risk of developing cancer as a result of doing something or not doing something else. For the patient sitting with me, the risk is either 100 per cent or 0 per cent. He or she either has the problem or not.
I would suggest the healthiest thing to do is not to give too much credence to studies.
Scientific “facts” tend to remain true for about five years. Then someone discovers there was a flaw in the basic understanding of the problem.
I remember when cigarette smoking was considered healthy — how wrong that proved to be. I remember eggs being bad news because of their cholesterol content. Now they’re good news. Even going outside is a battleground — should we be topping up our Vitamin D levels or protecting ourselves against the risks of melanoma skin cancer?
Time and again, studies will contradict each other.
As a result, it can be hard to know what to take seriously. A lot of the headline stats you will read in a newspaper are based on bad science.
There is almost a double edged sword — scientists want publicity for their work, the media want a good a headline, and sometimes the full picture is not revealed.
Take the debate over burnt toast from two years ago. The Food Standards Agency launched “Go For Gold” campaign, raising awareness about acrylamide — produced by burnt foods — which it said could cause cancer.
Many experts hit back. They said there was not enough evidence that acrylamide causes cancer. Yes, there were studies that linked the substance to cancers in rodents, but not enough evidence that this held true for humans.
6 Remember when cigarette smoking was considered healthy — how wrong that proved to beCredit: Getty – Contributor
6 Should we be topping up our Vitamin D levels by going out in the sun or protecting ourselves against the risks of melanoma skin cancer?Credit: Getty Images – Getty
We should be cautious about the results from one-off studies. Sometimes preliminary results, based on a small sample size, will be used to draw wider — and unconvincing conclusions. Or the conclusions can be oversimplified.
There was a study a few years ago which revealed that a chemical found in red wine might reduce the risk of bowel cancer. But that doesn’t equate to “Red Wine Prevents Cancer” — because alcohol actually increases the risk of cancer, and could outweigh any potential benefits.
Researchers can also skew a study with their methodology.
WORRY ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE
In the recent juice study in the British Medical Journal, other known risk factors to cancer, such as age, sex, education, family history, smoking status and physical activity, were not prioritised.
This can mean that some studies exaggerate the signif- icance of their findings. In 2013, Dr Jonathan D. Schoenfeld, of the Harvard School of Public Health in the US, and his colleague Dr John Ioannidis of Stanford, randomly selected 50 ingredients from The Boston Cooking School Cook Book. Then they looked up the ingredients — from mustard to orange juice — in scientific literature and found 40 were listed in studies which claimed they were a cancer risk or prevention benefit.
The doctors concluded: “Associations with cancer risk or benefit have been claimed for most food ingredients. Many single studies highlight implausibly large effects, even though evidence is weak.”
If something sounds too good, or too bad, to be true, it probably is. As a doctor, it would not be responsible to tell someone to cut out this or that when there might be far more significant risks in other areas of his or her life.
CommentTHE SUN SAYS UK’s new Prime Minister must make supporting our veterans a Day One priority CommentTHE SUN SAYS Darroch’s departure was necessary to save the ties with our closest ally CommentROSS CLARK Amazon hopes to make more untaxed millions by trawling health data from Brits CommentROD LIDDLE Corbyn’s Labour is lost to the working class, it’s now for the smirking class CommentTHE SUN SAYS Backing Remain is Labour’s final betrayal of democracy CommentLEO MCKINSTRY Jeremy Corbyn has betrayed his party, its history and, worst of all, himself
There are important messages hidden among the confusion. Ten grams of sugar a day (100ml of orange juice or two teaspoons of refined sugar) is associated with, not necessarily directly causes, an 18 per cent rise in the overall risk of getting cancer. But is the effect solely because of increase in body weight from eating and drinking sugary foods?
The question is whether we really want to spend every day focusing on ensuring we spend a few extra years in a nursing home at the end of our lives.
According to Cancer Research UK, more than one in two people will develop cancer at some point. But four in ten cases can be prevented. Not smoking, keeping active, eating a balanced diet and not sitting in the sun without sunscreen will all cut your risk.
So have a glass of orange juice — and worry about something else.
6 A study revealed a chemical in red wine might reduce the risk of bowel cancer, but that doesn’t equate to ‘Red Wine Prevents Cancer’ — because alcohol actually increases the risk of itCredit: Getty – Contributor
6 We can remember eggs being bad news because of their cholesterol content — now they’re good newsCredit: Getty – Contributor
CONFUSED? TAKE THIS LOT AS GOSPEL AND YOU WILL BE…
2018 RED WINE may prevent cancer, according to researchers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and the State University of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. An antioxidant known as resveratrol, found in red wine, stops the formation of protein clumps found in 50 per cent of tumours.
2019 Drinking a bottle of wine a week is equivalent of smoking five to ten cigarettes a week for raising the lifetime risk of cancer, according to a study by researchers from the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Bangor University and University of Southampton.
2014 ASPIRIN when taken regularly appears to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer after extended periods of use, according to a study published by the US-based National Cancer Institute.
2017 Researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong found long-term aspirin use reduces the risk of many cancers, including being 34 per cent less likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
2005 BEER may protect against cancer due to a mystery ingredient, according to researchers at Okayama University in Japan who studied lab mice.
2009 Drinking just a pint of beer a day could raise the risk of prostate cancer, following a review of 35 studies that investigated the relationship between drinking levels and the risk of developing that type of the disease.
2004 MILK when consumed in large amounts is linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer, according to researchers from Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
2007 Researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, claim younger women can cut their risk of breast cancer by more than a third by eating extra calcium and vitamin D.
Institute for Cancer Research (ICR) scientists explain the latest techniques in fight to end the disease