The first week of October marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Like many other medical topics, there are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about the disease, particularly on the Internet.
As with anything related to health, the most important opinion is that of your doctor. However, the following myths about breast cancer are common, but not true. We separate the facts from fiction to debunk breast cancer's most common myths.
1. Wearing antiperspirant increases your risk of getting breast cancer
The National Cancer Institute states that there is no conclusive research that links deodorant to breast cancer. Though there have been smaller studies that have had some conflicting but not causal results. Those studies focused on parabens, which can mimic the body's activity of estrogen in body cells. But according to the FDA, most major brands of deodorants and antiperspirants in the United States do not currently contain parabens To read more about those studies, click here.
2. Only women get breast cancer
Although breast cancer does affect mostly women, it can also affect men. In 2014, doctors will diagnose over 2,000 men with breast cancer. Over 400 of those men will probably die. Unfortunately, a key issue here is awareness.
"This may be attributed to the fact that awareness of breast cancer is so much greater among women than men," says Dr. Jon Greif from the U.S. National Cancer Database. "Guidelines call for regular screening, both clinical and mammographic, in women, leading to earlier detection."
3. Breast implants can raise your risk of cancer
According to research, getting breast implants does not increase your risk of breast cancer. However, women with implants may need to get additional X-rays when checking for breast cancer because standard mammograms don't always work as well on women with implants.
4. A lump means you have cancer
If you find a lump during a routine breast self-exam, do not fret. The majority of lumps are not cancer. However, you should never ignore any change or lump you find during your self-exams and if you find anything, you should see a doctor immediately. Early detection with breast cancer can save your life.
5. Only those with a family history of breast cancer will get it
This is entirely untrue. In fact, 80 to 85 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a history of breast cancer in their families. However, it is true that women and men with family histories of breast cancer have a higher chance of getting the disease.
6. The radiation of mammograms causes cancer
A mammogram, which is an X-ray of the breast, is key in detecting breast cancer early. The benefits far outweigh any risk from the low doses of radiation involved.
"The benefits of mammography, however, nearly always outweigh the potential harm from the radiation exposure," says the National Cancer Institute.
Mammograms detect breast cancer early, which means a higher possibility of survival if the disease is detected in time.
7. Breast cancer only affects older women
Women of all ages get breast cancer. Although it is more often seen in women after menopause, 11 percent of new cases of breast cancer occur in women under the age of 45.
8. Wearing a bra with an underwire increases your risk of breast cancer
Many people think that underwire bras squeezes the lymphatic system of the breast and cause toxins to build up and cause breast cancer. This is not true. The scientific consensus is that the tightness of your clothes has no affect on your chances of breast cancer.