Debunking the Most Common Breast Cancer Myths

How often have you heard or read about what causes breast cancer and thought to yourself: “Could that really be true”?

While breast cancer is one of the more well-known and spoken-about cancers, there are still many breast cancer myths out there.

So, let’s debunk the most common breast cancer misconceptions.

8 Breast cancer myths and facts

Here are eight of the most common breast cancer myths debunked with facts.

MYTH: You won’t get breast cancer if it’s not in your family history.

FACT: Most people diagnosed with breast cancer have no known family history of breast cancer.

The truth is, only about 5–10% of breast cancers are believed to be hereditary, meaning they result directly from gene mutations passed on from a parent.

Most people who get breast cancer have no family history of breast cancer. These cases are related to many other risk factors, most notably environmental factors and lifestyle.

However, if you have a strong family history of breast cancer on your mother’s or your father’s side, you should take the risk factor seriously. And remember to share this information with your doctor.

MYTH: Deodorant/aluminum antiperspirants or underwire bras cause breast cancer

FACT: There’s no conclusive, scientific evidence that proves this to be true.

This is one of the most common breast cancer misconceptions. But there is no evidence linking antiperspirant or underwire bras to breast cancer.

However, if you don’t want to take the chance, there are a variety of very comfortable bras available, so you don’t necessarily need to stick with the underwire bra option.

You may also feel uncomfortable with the idea of aluminum compounds temporarily blocking your sweat ducts, but there are options of rather using aluminum-free deodorant without the antiperspirant element.

MYTH: If I exercise regularly, eat healthily, maintain a healthy weight, and limit alcohol, I won’t get breast cancer.

FACT: While these are all good practices and can help lower breast cancer risk, they can’t eliminate it.

While living a healthy lifestyle certainly does help lower your risk, it does not guarantee you will never get breast cancer.

It’s a good idea to manage the risk factors you can control, such as what you eat and drink and how physically active you are. But what is even more important is to go for regular screenings.

Tip: Regular breast screening with Celbrea® increases early detection of breast cancer, and the earlier you detect any breast disease, the better your chances of recovery are.

MYTH: Only middle-aged and older women get breast cancer.

FACT: Younger women, as well as men, can and do get breast cancer.

Being a woman and growing older are the main risk factors for developing breast cancer. The SEER report estimates the risk of developing breast cancer in 10-year age intervals are: 

  • Age 30 . . . . . .  0.49% (or 1 in 204)
  • Age 40 . . . . . .  1.55% (or 1 in 65)
  • Age 50 . . . . . .  2.40% (or 1 in 42)
  • Age 60 . . . . . .  3.54% (or 1 in 28)
  • Age 70 . . . . . .  4.09% (or 1 in 24)

No matter your age, women of all ages need to pay attention to their breasts, perform regular self-examinations, and let their doctors know of any unusual changes. 

Another breast cancer myth is that men don’t get breast cancer. After all, men don’t have breasts, so how could they get breast cancer? Well, men have breast tissue too, so while it is rare (less than 1%), it is possible for them to get male breast cancer.

MYTH: Consuming too much sugar causes breast cancer.

FACT: There is no evidence to substantiate that sugar in the diet causes breast cancer.

There’s a common breast cancer myth that sugar can feed cancer and speed up its growth. While cancer cells consume sugar quicker than normal cells, there’s no evidence showing that excessive sugar consumption causes cancer.

However, this is not an excuse to overindulge in all those sweet treats for those with a sweet tooth. Overeating sugar can lead to weight gain, and being overweight is an established risk factor for breast cancer.

MYTH: Carrying your cell phone in your bra can cause breast cancer.

FACT: There is no current evidence connecting cell phones and breast cancer. It is, however, still being studied.

There have been some cases of younger women developing breast cancer after habitually carrying their cell phones in their bras.

However, there is no research to support this claim. Nonetheless, cell phone manufacturers recommend that you keep the device away from your body as much as possible. So, you may want to avoid wearing your cellphone in your bra or chest pocket until more research is available.

MYTH: Breast cancer will always form a lump that you can feel.

FACT: Breast cancer may not cause a palpable lump, especially in the early stages of development.

People are sometimes under the wrong impression that breast cancer always causes a lump that can be felt during a self-exam, but breast cancer doesn’t always cause a lump. 

For this reason, self-examinations alone are not enough. Mammograms and devices like Celbrea® help to identify breast cancer even when there are no visible signs.

And, while many lumps are benign (not cancerous), there is always the possibility of breast cancer. Any lump or unusual mass that can be felt through the skin needs to be checked out by a healthcare professional.

MYTH: Once the treatment is over, you’re finished with breast cancer.

FACT: Actually, breast cancer can have a long-term impact on people’s lives and well-being.

Even once the main treatments are done, people can still experience long-term side effects. 

These side effects could include physical: pain and tightness, fatigue, anxiety, fear of recurrence, and relationship changes, amongst others. 

For many people, the effects of the breast cancer experience last for years — or for life, in the case of metastatic breast cancer. 

The truth is that there are many myths around what causes breast cancer. Unless you experience breast cancer in your own life or someone close to you does, it isn’t always easy to separate breast cancer myth from fact. 

Before jumping to any conclusions, it’s best to speak to your doctor for the most accurate information.

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