Thinking pink and finding truth: Debunking common breast cancer myths
Since 1-in-8 women will develop breast cancer over their lifetime, it’s time to shed light on the gossip that surrounds this disease.
Rumor: Antiperspirants are linked to breast cancer
Fact: Despite several reports that the aluminum found in antiperspirants could cause calcification of breast tissue (which in turn could become cancerous), the Food and Drug Administration said, “[The agency finds] these theories lack sufficient evidence.” It is recommended, however, that you use more natural antiperspirants for wellness reasons.
Rumor: Underwire bras do nothing but harm
Fact: Underwire bras can do one of two things: Raise the masses (nudge, nudge) or can cause discomfort when they are too worn or damaged. There is no evidence that links breast support (like a bra) with breast cancer. Case closed.
Rumor: Breast pain and lumps are warning signs
Fact: Breast pain among women is considered normal, especially during one’s menstrual cycle. Only 2% of diagnosed breast cancer patients had breast pain as a symptom. However, such symptoms as nipple discharge, redness, rash or discoloration, or dimpling, are not. Additionally, breast lumps can be normal, but tugging of tissue is not. If you experience any of these issues, contact your doctor.
Rumor: Family history guarantees you will be diagnosed as well
Fact: This is a tricky one. While most women (70% to 80%) that are diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history, it is important to note, however, that women in certain demographics (particularly those of Jewish descent) may carry a genetic mutation* known as BRCA1 (pronounced “br-ACK-uh”) or BRCA2, that could leave them predisposed to developing breast cancer (*If you are concerned about this, ask your doctor about genetic testing).
Rumor: OK to wait… on mammograms
Fact: According to the National Cancer Institute, women ages 40 years and older should get a mammogram (an X-ray that can help diagnose breast cancer) every 1 to 2 years and should be part of a routine health plan, as well as self-exams, which should be conducted once a month, so women know what to look for.
Rumor: Men and breast cancer? Pssh. That’s a woman thing!
Fact: No. According to BreastCancer.org, in 2010, about 1,970 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed; less than 1% of all new breast cancer cases were men.