Breast cancer is a huge problem that affects hundreds of thousands of women every year, but in spite of that, we as a population seem to know very little about it. A wide number of breast cancer myths have worked their way into popular culture and inundated us with misinformation and unfounded fears. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common of those myths and take a look at the real facts about breast cancer.
Myth: Having a Family History of Breast Cancer Means You’ll Get It
Truth: Having a family history of breast cancer does not mean you’re going to get breast cancer. It does, however, mean you might have a genetic predisposition toward breast cancer. Scientists have identified a link between certain gene mutations which you can inherit from your parents, and breast cancer, but it’s still just a risk factor. A family history means you should pursue an aggressive breast cancer exam schedule, but it’s just a risk factor; not a guarantee that you’ll get it.
Myth: A Mammogram Causes Breast Cancer to Spread
Truth: A mammogram is an invaluable tool for the early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer. A mammogram cannot cause breast cancer to spread, and tales of peoples’ experience with this are largely anecdotal and coincidental or downright fraudulent. If you’re worried about having a mammogram, discuss your fears with your doctor, but don’t let false tales prevent you from having regular mammograms.
Myth: Antiperspirants and Deodorants Cause Breast Cancer
Truth: Scientists have not found a link between antiperspirants and deodorants and breast cancer. The myth says that aluminum-based compounds found in some deodorants can be absorbed into the skin and cause estrogen-like hormonal effects. Estrogen has the ability to promote the growth of breast cancer cells, so some alarmists have extrapolated this to conclude that deodorant causes breast cancer. However, the researchers at the National Cancer Institute are aware of no such link, and there are no conclusive studies or statistical data that indicate a link.
Myth: Wearing a Bra Causes Breast Cancer
Truth: The myth that wearing a bra causes breast cancer has been spread by a wide range of sources, but it’s just a myth. A couple of months ago, we did a blog post discussing the truth about bras and breast cancer – which is that there is no link. The “study” quoted in some breast cancer/bra articles is taken out of context, and the data is manipulated in a way to support the position – but it’s not true.
Myth: Breast Implants Cause Breast Cancer
Truth: The American Cancer Society confirms that silicone breast implants can cause scar tissue to form, which some women may misinterpret as tumors or breast cancer. However, studies have found that scarring from breast implants does not increase the risk of breast cancer. Do keep in mind, however, that if you have breast implants, self-exams may be more difficult and subjective, and you may need special X-ray pictures during mammograms.