Not only will these habits not lower your cancer risk, but they might end up harming your health instead.

By Melinda Beck and Molly M. Ginty
Updated May 30, 2018
y-studio/Getty Images


Worries stem in part from a 1990 study suggesting a link between bone tumors in rats and fluoridated water. But health authorities say there is no strong evidence of this—and there is evidence of the huge benefits of staving off cavities.


Traces of BPA have been found in the substances painted on children’s molars to prevent decay, but the American Dental Association says the traces are so small that it’s not worth sacrificing the oral health protection sealants provide.


Tests that use ionizing radiation (like X-rays and CTs) are potentially carcinogenic: CT scans alone cause an estimated 1.5 percent of cancers in the U.S. Ask if scans are truly needed. But women who skip recommended mammograms because they fear that the radiation could cause breast cancer put themselves at greater risk by not detecting it early, says Jennifer Ligibel, MD, a medical oncologist with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.


“Supplements are not a quick fix to prevent cancer,” cautions Nebeling. Randomized trials have found that taking vitamins B6, B12, C, and E, beta-carotene, folic acid, or selenium in pill form generally does not lower cancer risks and in certain cases may even increase them.