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'There is a jungle of information out there': Warning over online cancer myths

The public has been urged not to trust the internet for medical advice.

Dr Antoinette Perry at the launch of the Irish Cancer Society campaign which predicts 1 in 2 people will get the disease.
Dr Antoinette Perry at the launch of the Irish Cancer Society campaign which predicts 1 in 2 people will get the disease.
Image: SAM BOAL/

A LEAD RESEARCHER at the Irish Cancer Society has warned that false reporting of the links between modern life and the disease has sparked major public worry.

Head of research at the Irish Cancer Society, Dr Robert O’Connor, said claims that cancer could be caused by appliances and additives in food were common public fears. However, he said that there has been no proven link between these and the disease.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, O’Connor said that people must start looking at legitimate sources of information so they can ease their health concerns. Google is not the answer, according to O’Connor.

He said: “They’re referring to things like people chemicals in their foods, GM plants. None of these have been proven to have any association with cancer. People have great fear in their food now.”

But O’Connor was also quick to point out that social media has a big role to play in the dissemination of misinformation in relation to cancer.

O’Connor said that “there are people out there who are spreading myths and rumours about treatment and they’re very manipulative”.

There is a jungle of information out there so it’s hard to pick out where they can get reliable sources of information. Places like dieticians, oncologists are where to go. There’s also websites likes

The Irish Cancer Society was embroiled in controversy at the start of this year after launching the ‘I Want to Get Cancer’ ad campaign.

The video advert drew a lot of negative commentary, with most people saying that a different type of wording should have been chosen, and showed shock that the message was approved by the organisation.

However, O’Connor defended it and said it has been an “incredibly successful ad campaign” in helping people understand that there are trustworthy sources of medical information online.

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