There seems to be no end to the Whatsapp menace. When it’s not instigating mobs against child lifters, its spreading quackery. Recently, a Whatsapp message has been doing rounds about Sonali Bendre allegedly suffering from uterine cancer. The message states that her cancer has already spread, a fact that the actress herself has revealed through a Twitter post. But so far, apart from her poignant message about suffering from high-grade cancer, Sonali has not revealed the type of cancer she was suffering from. The claims that she is suffering from uterine cancer is therefore unsubstantiated.
But the strangeness of the forward doesn’t end there. A list of dos follows the message and don’ts for women that border on the hilarious. Here is a screenshot of the message.
Oddly, for a message that starts off with Sonali Bendre’s uterine cancer is rounded off with tips to “Kick Off ‘Breast Cancer.’” Here’s what the message wants women to do.
“Nurse your body”
Without a doubt, every woman should nurse her body. But this is a generic advice true for warding off any disease.
“Wash your bra daily”
Washing your bra daily is important from an overall hygiene point of view since reduces chances of skin infections and the likes. But the fact that an unclean bra can cause breast cancer is a myth and is not supported by science.
“Avoid black bra in summer”
We are certain that the inherent logic is that black colour absorbs more heat. And stepping out wearing a black bra would mean the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun will be concentrated in the breast region, which could ostensibly increase your chances of breast cancer. But yet again, there exists no scientific proof that ties wearing a black bra to cancer.
“Do not wear a bra while sleeping”
Sleeping with a bra on can be uncomfortable, which is the only reason why not wearing a bra to bed makes sense. Although there has been some claims that wearing a tight bra while sleeping can cause breast cancer, the scientific community rejects the belief.
“Do not wear an underwire bra very often”
The underwire of the bra is a semi-circular strip often made of metal, fitted inside the fabric of the bra. Women opt for bras with underwire since it provides support to the breasts. Again, no scientific evidence backs this claim.
“Always cover your chest completely by your dupatta or scarf when you are under the sun.”
The sun’s harmful UV radiation has been known to increase skin cancer risk in people of all colours and ages. That’s why it is important to protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen or umbrellas when you step outside. But a 2007 study published by researchers at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center that increased exposure to sunlight -- which increases levels of vitamin D in the body -- may decrease the risk of advanced breast cancer.
“Use a deodorant and not an antiperspirant”
Lately, a lot of rumours about antiperspirants causing breast cancer have been doing rounds. The belief is that chemicals in the antiperspirants are absorbed through nicks and cuts during underarm shaving. Since these cosmetics are said to block perspiration, the belief is that the body fails to get rid of the toxins, leading to cancer. The American Cancer Society states that is nothing to link breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, and “very little scientific evidence to support this claim.”
Perhaps the biggest lie is that the message has been forwarded by “Tata Cancer Hospital” as a “Public Service message.” When LatestLY reached out to Tata Memorial Centre, Head of Public Relations Department Humayun Jafri flatly denied that the hospital had anything to do with the message.
As helpful as it is, Whatsapp is not free from malicious misinformation, which has been causing paranoia among the people. Apart from spreading rumours about Sonali Bendre's cancer diagnosis, in the last couple of months, dubious forwards about child lifters have led mobs to attack unsuspecting people, leading to the deaths of many. Whatsapp quacks are also guilty of spreading half-truths and misinformation. When Nipah virus breakout was at its zenith, there were rumours that a homoeopathic remedy could prevent the fever. Many forwards have been doling out “home remedies” for deadly diseases like cancer, Ebola and Zika. Instead of blindly forwarding these messages, smartphone users should exercise caution by verifying them first.