Cancer is a broad term for a class of diseases characterized by abnormal cells that grow and invade healthy cells in the body. Breast cancer starts in the cells of the breast as a group of cancer cells that can then invade surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body. Signs of breast cancer may include a lump in the breast, a change in breast shape, dimpling of the skin, fluid coming from the nipple, or a red scaly patch of skin on the breast. In those with distant spread of the disease, there may be bone pain, swollen lymph nodes, shortness of breath, or yellow skin.
Misconceptions about cancer, it’s causes, spread, etc can
lead to a lot of unnecessary worry about your health. Scary claims
circulate widely on the Internet and through social media that everyday
objects and products, such as plastic and deodorant, are secret cancer
causes. Beyond being wrong, many of these myths may cause you to worry
unnecessarily about the health of your family. Before you panic, take a
look at the facts. Read on to find out whether there’s any truth to
these common myths about Breast Cancer.
Myth 1: Antiperspirants or deodorants can cause breast cancer.
Fact: There’s no conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants with breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute and other research bodies in the USA.
Some reports have suggested that these products contain harmful substances such as aluminium compounds and parabens that can be absorbed through the skin or enter the body through nicks caused by shaving. No clinical studies have yet given a definitive answer to the question of whether these products cause breast cancer. But the evidence to date suggests these products don’t cause cancer.
If you’re still concerned that your underarm antiperspirant or deodorant could increase your risk of cancer, choose products that don’t contain chemicals that worry you. There are many natural deodorants available or you could try certain home remedies as well for preventing body odor.
Myth 2: Underwire Bras cause breast cancer.
Fact: Underwire bras do not cause breast cancer. A 2014 scientific study looked at the link between wearing a bra and breast cancer. There was no real difference in risk between women who wore a bra and women who didn’t wear a bra. It makes no difference medically if your bra has wires or not, opens in the front or back, is padded or not padded, is made of nylon, cotton, or any other material, or gives much support or little support.
Myth 3: If you have a family history of breast cancer, you are likely to develop breast cancer, too.
Fact: While women who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, most women who have breast cancer have no family history. Statistically only about 10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of this disease.
- If you have a first degree relative with breast cancer: If you have a mother, daughter, or sister who developed breast cancer below the age of 50, you should consider some form of regular diagnostic breast imaging starting 10 years before the age of your relative’s diagnosis
- If you have a second degree relative with breast cancer: If you have had a grandmother or aunt who was diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk increases slightly, but it is not in the same risk category as those who have a first degree relative with breast cancer
- If you have multiple generations diagnosed with breast cancer on the same side of the family, or if there are several individuals who are first degree relatives to one another, or several family members diagnosed under age 50, the probability increases that there is a breast cancer gene contributing to the cause of this familial history
Myth 4: Finding a lump in your breast means you have breast cancer.
Fact: Only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer. But if you discover a persistent lump in your breast or notice any changes in breast tissue, it should never be ignored. It is very important that you see a physician for a clinical breast exam. He or she may possibly order breast imaging studies to determine if this lump is of concern or not.
Take charge of your health by performing routine breast self-exams, establishing ongoing communication with your doctor, getting an annual clinical breast exam, and scheduling your routine screening mammograms.
Myth 5: Men do not get breast cancer; it affects women only.
Fact: Quite the contrary, each year it is estimated that approximately 2,190 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 410 will die. While this percentage is still small, men should also check themselves periodically by doing a breast self-exam while in the shower and reporting any changes to their physicians.
Breast cancer in men is usually detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola. Men carry a higher mortality than women do, primarily because awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment.
Myth 6: Microwaving plastic containers and wraps releases harmful, cancer-causing substances into food.
Fact: Microwave-safe plastic containers and wraps are safe to use in the microwave. But plastic containers not intended for use in the microwave could melt and potentially leak chemicals into your food. So avoid microwaving containers that were never intended for the microwave, such as margarine tubs, takeout containers or whipped topping bowls. Check to see that any container you use in the microwave is labelled as microwave-safe.
Myth 7: There is nothing you can do to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.
Fact: Ninety percent of breast cancers are largely due to lifestyle and environmental factors. To keep your risk as low as it can be, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and limit the amount of alcohol you drink and the fatty substances you consume.
Myth 8: Regular mammograms prevent breast cancer.
Fact: Mammograms don’t prevent breast cancer, but they can save lives by finding breast cancer as early as possible, when it’s most treatable.
Myth 9: A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread.
Fact: A mammogram, or x-ray of the breast, currently remains the gold standard for the early detection of breast cancer. Breast compression while getting a mammogram cannot cause cancer to spread. According to the National Cancer Institute, “The benefits of mammography, however, nearly always outweigh the potential harm from the radiation exposure. Mammograms require very small doses of radiation. The risk of harm from this radiation exposure is extremely low.”
The standard recommendation is an annual mammographic screening for women beginning at age 40. Base your decision on your physician’s recommendation and be sure to discuss any remaining questions or concerns you may have with your physician.
Myth 10: People with cancer shouldn’t eat sugar, since it can cause cancer to grow faster.
Fact: Sugar doesn’t make cancer grow faster. All cells, including cancer cells, depend on blood sugar (glucose) for energy. But giving more sugar to cancer cells doesn’t speed their growth. Likewise, depriving cancer cells of sugar doesn’t slow their growth.
This misconception may be based in part on a misunderstanding of positron emission tomography (PET) scans, which use a small amount of radioactive tracer — typically a form of glucose. All tissues in your body absorb some of this tracer, but tissues that are using more energy — including cancer cells — absorb greater amounts. For this reason, some people have concluded that cancer cells grow faster on sugar. But this isn’t true.
However, there is some evidence that consuming large amounts of sugar is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, including esophageal cancer. It can also lead to weight gain and increase the risk of obesity and diabetes, which may increase the risk of cancer.
Myth 11: Your doctor is always right.
Fact: You know your breasts best. If you feel strongly like something is wrong, but it goes against your doctor’s diagnosis, get a second opinion or insist on a biopsy anyway. A biopsy is a minor procedure with low risks and potentially high gains. It’s not uncommon for a woman to suspect she has a lump and it not be detected on a mammogram until years later.