When it comes to issues that affect your own health, getting information online is a double-edged sword. Along with reliable information, there are all kinds of opinions and stories that, depending on the doubts related to the consultation, can lead to very wrong self-diagnosis.
For this reason, the Harvard University School of Public Health and the Zhu Family Center for Global Cancer Prevention have created Cancer Fact Finder, a website with a search engine where you can enter any term and receive accurate information about its relationship to the causes of the cancer.
Both the proven facts and the false myths as well as what is still under study and there is no unanimous position.
The figures for this disease give an idea of why everything related to cancer is a concern for millions of people around the world. In 2020 the International Agency for Research on Cancer calculated 18.1 million new cases and 9.96 million deaths around the world.
It also estimated that the number of new cases will have increased to 27 million by 2040 while the number of deaths will rise to 16.3 million. In Spain, the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology hopes that this year the incidence reach 280,100 cases and predicts that it will reach 341,000 cases in 2040.
And according to the INE, it was the second cause of mortality in 2020, behind diseases of the circulatory system and ahead of those who died with Covid, with 112,741 deaths.
Given this impact, a search engine that allows access to contrasted information on the causes of cancer is a much more useful tool than Google for this end. Cancer Fact Finder is geared toward the general public and summarizes the best evidence-based scientific information and human studies available.
It has a team of 13 experts from the medical and academic world who have reviewed the scientific evidence on what has been shown to be related to cancer risk.
The Cancer Fact Finder information is divided into six categories: Diet and nutrition, Lifestyle, Medical exposures and procedures, Consumer products, Occupational and environmental exposure, and Other exposures.
The visitor can enter the term they want in the search engine or, if they don’t know where to start, filter by categories and labels such as “false statements” or “true statements” among many others.
For example, if you select the tag breast cancer and the category Consumer products, the web returns results on statements like antiperspirant products or wearing a bra can cause it, both rated as “false or misinformation”.
Each entry explains “what the science tells us” about the topic, ways to reduce the risk associated with the type of cancer with which it is related, links to various sources of prestigious information and dates the publication to make it easier to check its validity.
On the question of why it is difficult to find reliable information about the causes of cancer, Cancer Fact Finder argues for three reasons: the changes in information that are taking place as science investigates and learns more about the disease, that science progresses in fits and starts and it takes years to reach a consensus on a causal relationship and the abundance of misinformation, often the result of partial information or incomplete understanding.
Rachel Maga is a technology journalist currently working at Globe Live Media agency. She has been in the Technology Journalism field for over 5 years now. Her life’s biggest milestone is the inside tour of Tesla Industries, which was gifted to her by the legend Elon Musk himself.