When it comes to preventing cancer, it’s important to have accurate information.
That’s why MD Anderson holds classes to educate people about ways to reduce their risk for this disease.
Some questions come up more often than others. Here are the answers to 12 of the most common questions our team gets.
What’s in e-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes have a battery, a heating element and a container for liquid. When the liquid is heated, it turns to an aerosol, which users inhale. E-cigarette use is often called vaping.
That’s the simple part. What’s harder is knowing what is in each type of e-cigarette liquid. They come in many different flavors and the ingredients do not have to be listed.
What we do know is that e-cigarettes are highly addictive. That’s because most contain nicotine - often more than a regular cigarette.
Another problem is the flavors that have been analyzed have been found to contain chemicals that are not proven to be safe for inhalation. Some of them are the same chemicals found in glue and paint.
Does deodorant cause breast cancer?
Some people also worry that deodorant causes problems by blocking under-arm sweat glands, but there is no evidence for this either.
There is data showing that breast tumors often appear in the outer portion of the breast, near the armpit—the part you might accidentally swipe with deodorant. But it’s not clear if this is due to deodorant exposure or because the outer portion of the breast contains the most breast tissue.
If you want to play it safe, shop for deodorant that does not have aluminum. And check the ingredients on the label. You should avoid items containing ingredients with the word “paraben” in their names, such as “methylparaben.”
Are you going to show us how to do a breast self-exam?
Research shows that most women find problems in their breasts during everyday routines like showering or getting dressed. Having to learn a specific exam simply causes anxiety.
Instead of a specific set of steps performed at regular intervals, MD Anderson recommends women practice breast awareness. That means getting to know how your breasts look and feel so you will notice if something changes.
You do not have to learn a certain breast exam technique. The most important thing is to find your own way to recognize what’s normal for you.
When does my child need two HPV shots and when is it three?
The HPV vaccine is most effective when it is given to girls and boys who are 11-12 years old. At this age, two shots are needed and they are given six months apart.
The full range for the two-dose vaccine is aged 9-14. If the vaccine is given later, after age 15 and through to age 26, three shots are recommended.
The vaccine also is approved for adults age 27-45. Talk to your doctor about whether the HPV vaccine is right for you.
I don’t know if my child already got their HPV shots. Is it damaging to repeat?
If you’re not sure if your child has received HPV shots, your doctor may be able to confirm for you. But if you can’t get that information, don’t worry. It is not harmful to get the vaccine again.
If you started the series but did not finish, you never need to start again. Simply get the remaining shots.
If your child received the first dose before they turned 15, then they only need one more. This should be given at least six months after the first.
If your child received the first dose after they turned 15, then they need two more shots. The second shot is usually two months after the first. The third is usually six months after that, but longer gaps are fine too.
Is hookah harmful?
Hookahs are water pipes that create flavored tobacco smoke. They are very harmful because they contain many cancer-causing chemicals.
People often smoke hookahs in bars or cafes and a single session can last close to 60 minutes. In that time users can inhale the same amount of smoke as 100 cigarettes.
Do sugar alternatives get you away from the problem of sugar?
The biggest issue with sugar is it adds calories without any nutritional benefit. That means it won’t fulfill your hunger and you will likely overeat and gain weight, which increases your risk for a number of cancers.
Natural sweeteners like honey and agave have the same empty calories, so are not a good alternative.
Artificial sweeteners are sometimes zero-calorie, but they still can lead to weight gain. These products are often many times sweeter than regular sugar. They can cause much stronger sugar cravings and make you want more unhealthy foods.
Some artificial sweeteners also have been linked to cancer. Studies have not proved this beyond doubt but our dietitian recommends you play it safe and avoid them.
If you struggle to avoid sweet foods, try to cut down the number of times you eat them per week.
You also can eat smaller portions to help you reduce the amount of added sweeteners you’re consuming. Or pick sweet foods that are lower in fat to reduce overall calories.
Where does dairy fit into a healthy plate? And where does it fit in the plant-based diet?
The key to the plant-based diet is that plants make up the largest quantity of food in your diet. MD Anderson recommends two-thirds of each meal be made up of plant foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds.
The remaining one-third should be lean protein. That can be lean animal protein or plant protein.
Dairy products fall into the animal protein section of a healthy plate. Dairy is a good source of protein and other nutrients important for optimum health, but should not make up the majority of your diet.
If you do eat dairy, pay attention to saturated fat. Cheese can be very high in fat and one ounce usually provides your full daily allowance.
I’m am a healthy weight. Do I need to worry about my diet?
Some people are thin even though they eat poorly and don’t exercise. If you are like this, others might be tempted to call you lucky.
In reality, your body may be hiding problems from you.
Weight is not the only indicator of health. Even if you are thin, unhealthy foods may still lead to high blood sugar, cholesterol problems, high blood pressure and inflammation.
And remember that a healthy diet is not only about weight. Healthy foods contain vital nutrients that help your body fight several different diseases, including cancer.
Make sure you talk with your doctor and get a full picture of your health.
Is nitrate and nitrite-free processed meat OK? What about freshly sliced deli meat, like turkey or chicken?
MD Anderson recommends you avoid all processed meat including any marked nitrate and nitrite free.
Processed meat increases your risk for colorectal cancer and preservatives like nitrates are only one reason. These meats often are cooked at high temperatures. Cooking meat at high temperatures is linked to cancer.
In addition, meat producers often substitute artificial nitrates with natural nitrates like celery powder. If the nitrates are natural, the label can still say nitrate-free.
All deli meats, including freshly sliced turkey and chicken, are included in this. Chicken and turkey you have cooked yourself at home is ok because you know that nothing has been added to it.
Which is better, walking for an hour or running for 30 minutes?
This is very individual and depends on how many calories you burn when you do moderate exercise versus how much you burn when you do vigorous exercise. For some people, it will be about the same, so there would be no difference. People with a lot of muscle mass might burn more running.
Ultimately, the best of these options is the one that you can do consistently over time. Not everyone can run for 30 minutes and not everyone can walk for an hour.
What kind of exercise is most effective?
Again, the most effective exercise is the exercise that you’re going to do consistently.
It also depends on your goals. Are you looking for weight loss or are you training for an event? Ask yourself, what’s going to help you meet your goal.
You can also talk to a professional. Some gyms and fitness centers will offer free initial consultations.