Breast cancer awareness is on the rise and so are the tumorous rumors surrounding it. See how many of the following 15 myths/facts you know or have heard of to avoid serious repercussions.
1. Myth: If I had a normal mammogram, then I needn’t worry about breast cancer.
Fact: Mammograms fail to detect around 10% to 20% of breast cancers.
Just because one exam comes back normal doesn’t mean breast cancer would not develop later. To be safe, conduct self-examinations, paying particular attention to any changes in how your breasts look or feel.
2. Myth: Breast implants can raise your cancer risk.
Fact: Breast implants wouldn’t increase your chance of getting breast cancer, according to research.
However, additional X-rays are sometimes needed for more thorough examination of the breast tissue because standard mammograms don’t always work well on women with implants.
3. Myth: You can’t get breast cancer after a mastectomy.
Fact: Some women get breast cancer at the site of the scar after a mastectomy.
Angelina Jolie underwent an elective double mastectomy after tests revealed that she carried a breast cancer causing gene. However, she still has the possibility to get breast cancer though the risk is reduced by an average of 90% after prophylactic mastectomy.
4. Myth: Obesity doesn’t play a role in breast cancer.
Fact: Being overweight does increase your chance of getting breast cancer, especially when you gained the weight later in life.
The female hormone estrogen can help breast cancer grow, and most of your estrogen comes from fat tissue. Thus, having more fat tissue can increase your chance of getting breast cancer.
5. Myth: Having an abortion increases your risk of getting breast cancer.
Fact: Abortion doesn’t play a role in whether or not you get breast cancer.
The caveat is that abortion could disrupt hormone cycles during pregnancy and breast cancer is linked to hormone levels; studies have not shown a causal link between abortion and breast cancer.
6. Myth: Wearing an underwire bra increases your breast cancer risk.
Fact: Neither the type of your bra nor the tightness of your underwear has any connection to breast cancer risk.
The claim that underwire bras compress the lymphatic system of the breast, causing toxins to accumulate and cause breast cancer is based on only one survey. Since then, major medical institutions, such as the National Cancer Institute and the ACS, have refuted the claim.
7. Myth: Small-chest women have a lower risk.
Fact: Your breast size isn’t linked to your chance of developing breast cancer.
All breast cancers develop in the cells that line the ducts or lobules (parts that make milk and carry it to the nipple), and all women have the same number of these cells regardless of breast size. Very large breasts, however, may be more difficult to examine than smaller ones.
8. Myth: Caffeine causes breast cancer
Fact: There’s no evidence that drinking caffeine could increase your breast cancer risk.
In fact, some research even indicates that caffeine may actually lower your risk. But for now, it’s inconclusive whether caffeine may be related to breast cancer.
9. Myth: Your father’s family history of breast cancer isn’t important.
Fact: Your father’s family history of breast cancer is just as important as your mother’s in estimating your risk.
However, you need to look primarily at the women to find out about the risk stemming from your father’s side of the family.
10. Myth: Women with lumpy breasts have a higher risk.
Fact: There’s no solid evidence that women with lumpy, dense, or fibrocystic breasts are at higher risk of getting breast cancer.
However, when you have lumpy breasts, it can be trickier to tell normal tissue from cancerous tissue, so you may experience false alarms.
11. Myth: All women have a 1-in-8 chance of getting breast cancer.
Fact: Your risk of getting breast cancer increases as you get older.
Your chance of developing breast cancer is about 1 in 233 when you’re in your 30s and rises to 1 in 8 by the time you’re 85.
12. Myth: Using deodorants causes breast cancer.
Fact: There’s no conclusive evidence that deodorants and antiperspirants cause breast cancer.
One small study claimed deodorants and antiperspirants stop the body from sweating out toxins which then build up in the lymph glands under the armpit, causing breast cancer. The American Cancer Society pooh-poohs this rumor, but admits that more research is needed.
13. Myth: Breast cancer is preventable.
Fact: Alas, no.
Although it is possible to identify risk factors like obesity and family history, and make lifestyle changes to lower your risk, there still isn’t enough information about what causes breast cancer for women to prevent it completely.
14. Myth: Stress causes breast cancer.
Fact: Stress has no direct link to breast cancer.
When we’re under stress, our lifestyle behaviours may change. For example, we might overeat and drink more alcohol, and that will increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
15. Myth: Only women with a family history of breast cancer are at risk.
Fact: More than 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no identifiable risk factor for the disease.
However, if a first-degree relative (a parent, sibling, or child) has had or has breast cancer, your risk of developing the disease approximately doubles.