Saturday 16 December 2017

Breathe easy, men: those tighty-whiteys and your phone don't cause cancer

David Beckham has been used by several major brands to promote men’s underwear, much of it tight
David Beckham has been used by several major brands to promote men’s underwear, much of it tight
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Men who fear that wearing tight underwear increases their cancer risk have been reassured it is a myth.

Other rumours, such as claims that carrying a mobile phone in the pocket or extended use of a computer laptop are risk factors for the disease, have also been debunked.

The reassurance has come from researchers at University College Cork (UCC) in association with Breakthrough Cancer Research, who investigated the level of understanding of cancer risk factors among Irish men.

Dr Aoife Ryan, a dietitian and lecturer in nutritional sciences in UCC and the co-author of the research, pointed out that the findings show that a significant proportion of men have ideas about what causes the disease that are not backed up by evidence.

"For example, between 45pc to 52pc believed that wearing tight underwear, carrying mobile phones in pockets or extended use of a laptop on the lap increased their risk of testicular cancer.

"We also found that most are concerned about developing cancer, but worryingly less than 50pc had sought information to help them lower their risk.

"These findings again highlight the need for straightforward, evidence-based information."

She said that the survey, which included 913 men, also showed that one in three wrongly blamed eating dairy as a cancer risk.

The researchers showed that some 8pc were also wrong in thinking that if there was a history of cancer in their family there was nothing they could do to prevent it.

"Worryingly Irish men still seem to underestimate alcohol as a risk factor in developing cancer, with 66pc incorrectly believing that red wine protects against cancer.

"At a time when the World Cancer Research Fund has warned that the claimed benefits of drinking red wine for heart health are less than previously thought and are outweighed by the harmful effect alcohol has on cancer risk, it is important that we understand the role alcohol plays in increasing our cancer risk."

While most men surveyed were aware of classic cancer risk factors, such as smoking and poor diet, there are still a lot of misconceptions that must to be tackled. An overwhelming 95pc correctly identified regular activity as a protective factor, yet less than half of respondents believed obesity is a risk factor.

The results of this research show that there remains a need for people to become more cancer curious, and to arm themselves with the information they need to lower their cancer risk.

Control

"As proven by the World Cancer Research Fund, small changes in our lifestyle can make a big difference to our cancer risk but most importantly these changes are within our control," Dr Ryan concludes.

Aine Lyng, cancer prevention manager at the HSE's National Cancer Control Programme, said that "30pc to 40pc of cancers can be prevented through lifestyle".

The findings are part of the #MySmallChange campaign.

It highlights how eight small lifestyle changes to lower the risk of developing the disease.

Irish Independent

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