The SIO Research Committee is pleased to offer this fourth installment in a new blog series known as "Myths of Cancer". In this series we will address some of the most common myths and misperceptions that arise around cancer risk and treatment related to diet and natural health products, as well as other complementary therapies such as yoga, acupuncture and meditation. If you have a question you'd like us to address or comments about this post, please send your suggestions to: info@integrativeonc.org.

We hope you enjoy the series!
Linda Carlson and Eugene Ahn, Research Co-Chairs.

5 Common Myths About Cancer and Cancer Treatment that Could Harm You

By: Eugene Ahn, MD

Quick Answer Box

Sometimes we can hold on to our belief systems too tightly. Below, we discuss some myths about cancer that evidence suggests may negatively impact a patient’s chances of surviving a cancer diagnosis. We have intentionally excluded controversies that will be addressed in future blog entries.


A new diagnosis of localized cancer can be an emotional rollercoaster of ups and downs, dread and optimism, fear and empowerment. Added to this distress is the seemingly impossible task of gathering sufficient information to make the best evidence-informed decision regarding an optimal individualized treatment plan. It is only natural (with the lack of any editorial oversight on most information posted on the Internet), that someone could accidentally pick up some erroneous beliefs about cancer and cancer treatment and likewise miss out on important new research insights that would improve cancer treatment outcomes. In this blog, we discuss myths that already have sufficient research to show they are not only incorrect, but also may harm a patient’s chances for thriving after a cancer diagnosis. We interviewed surgical oncologists, medical oncologists and other cancer care providers to identify the most common harmful myths that they encounter in their practice. These myths are listed in order of least to most harmful.

The SIO Research Committee is pleased to offer this third installment in a new blog series known as "Myths of Cancer". In this series we will address some of the most common myths and misperceptions that arise around cancer risk and treatment related to diet and natural health products, as well as other complementary therapies such as yoga, acupuncture and meditation. If you have a question you'd like us to address or comments about this post, please send your suggestions to: info@integrativeonc.org.

We hope you enjoy the series!
Linda Carlson and Eugene Ahn, Research Co-Chairs.

The Role for Hypnosis in Cancer Care: Overcoming Misconceptions to Engage in Evidence-Based Care

 By:  Eugene Ahn, MD, Linda Carlson, PhD, and Lorenzo Cohen, PhD

Quick Answer Box

There is a solid evidence-base to support the use of hypnosis in reducing distress, anxiety, nausea, pain and other symptoms during invasive medical procedures and reducing medical costs. Yet misconceptions related to the practice of hypnosis have limited its integration into cancer care.


Earlier this year, the critically acclaimed film Get Out (99% on Rotten Tomatoes) amassed $175 million at the box office winning audiences over with its mix of dark humor, horror, and social commentary. One of the plot twists (SPOILER ALERT) involves a psychiatrist who uses hypnosis to “mind-control” her guests. By tapping her cup of tea, she can sedate her clients into submission. To those who practice hypnosis or have trained in it, this representation of hypnosis is inaccurate and frustrating, requiring suspension of disbelief because those who know hypnosis well are aware that we cannot make a client do something they do not want to do. Yet this is the misunderstanding and fear of loss of control that hypnosis carries today.

Are Soy Foods Safe for Breast Cancer Patients?

The SIO Research Committee is pleased to offer this second installment in a new blog series known as "Myths of Cancer". In this series we will address some of the most common myths and misperceptions that arise around cancer risk and treatment related to diet and natural health products, as well as other complementary therapies such as yoga, acupuncture and meditation. If you have a question you'd like us to address or comments about this post, please send your suggestions to: info@integrativeonc.org.

We hope you enjoy the series!
Linda Carlson and Eugene Ahn, Research Co-Chairs.

Written by Omer Kucuk, MD

Omer Kucuk, MD is a Professor in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine/Winship Cancer Institute. He is a veteran member of SIO and has a primary research focus on nutrition and cancer, conducting preclinical and clinical studies with soy isoflavones, lycopene and other nutritional and botanical compounds for over 20 years. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the author's own, and not necessarily those of the Society of Integrative Oncology or Emory University School of Medicine. The SIO supports open dialogue between health care practitioners and patients to make sure patients can make informed decisions. As always, your comments and feedback are welcome.


Many women with breast cancer have been told to avoid soy foods. This warning is based on the assumption that plant estrogens (phytoestrogens) found in soybeans could be harmful. The assumption is that soy food sources of estrogens might somehow “feed” cancer cells and act in opposition to anti-estrogen medications like tamoxifen, thereby increasing breast cancer risk.

 

Quick Answer Box

The safety and health benefits of soy foods are well established and it is probably safe for women with breast cancer to consume soy foods. However, greater caution is advised regarding use of soy derived isoflavone supplements such as genistein.