Newspapers print so many scary headlines these days, we're not even sure we can drink water without contracting cancer. But should we believe them all? Read on and find out.
FACT: Salt can cause strokes
Let's face it, dousing our food with salt is almost as Malaysian bad traffic. But with a majority of the population consuming double the recommended daily amount of salt - that's 6g per day - does our sprinkling addiction mean we're risking our health? The answer's YES, according to reports that claim too much salt can cause strokes. So should we eat our fries au naturel?
"Well, salt is one of the risk factors that contribute to high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke," says Claire Williams, a nutrition scientist. "The real problem is that salt's hidden in almost all processed foods - from biscuits to ready meals to tomato sauce." So always check the salt content on food labels, and avoid adding more when you're cooking. But don't worry, just because you're in salt rehab doesn't mean you have to go cold turkey or chicken with the pepper!
FICTION: Oh yes, milk gives you cancer too..
After years of glugging litres of the white stuff to what off brittles bones, recent stories claimed that milk had joined the long list of carcinogens, which got us all confused. According to reports, one glass a day - the equivalent of the amount of milk found in regular latte - can double the risk of developing ovarian tumors. So should dairy be struck off the menu?
"Not at all," says Williams. This study, by scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, is one of a number being carried out to investigate the possible cause of ovarian cancer. But so far they haven't been able to prove that drinking milk causes the disease." So why all the fuss?
"The study showed an association between milk and ovarian cancer, which basically means the women they tested drank a lot of milk had developed ovarian cancer," says Williams. "But that doesn't mean milk caused the cancer." But before you lay off the lattes to be on the safe side remember that, according to health experts, milk's still a great source of calcium and other essential nutrients, like Omega-3, all of which help keep your heart healthy and protect against breast and colon cancer.
FACT: Heart disease is the biggest killer out there..
Getting breast cancer used to be most women's Number One fear, especially with celebs like Anastacia and Kylie Minoque proving it can strike young. But then we were told there's a far bigger threat out there - heart disease. So would we really be more worried about that? "Truth is, women are four times more likely to die of heart disease than of breast cancer. But the good news is you can easily reduce the risk by sticking a healthy diet, exercising for 30 minutes at lease three times a week, and staying within the recommended weight limit for your height. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are also factors, so get your GP to check you over. And learn to relax!" says Dr Sarah Brewer, author of The Ultimate Stress Buster.
FICTION: Deodorant can cause breast cancer
No one wants to ruin their best dress with sweat patches, but reports linking chemicals used in deodorants - like aluminum - to breast cancer left us with a dilemma. Are we really risking our health by rolling on? Relax: The best medical evidence suggest not.
"The only scientific study that's looked directly at this question, conducted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, did not find any association between anti-perspirant use and a risk of breast cancer," says Dr Tim Key from Cancer Research UK. So why the panic? Well, another study found a higher incidence of breast cancer near the underarm, which led to people jumping to the conclusion that deodorant was to blame. But it's never been proved!