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Breast Cancer Myths

Published on | Kylie Chin

Cancer myths are born from fear and lack of understanding. Rumors get started by word of mouth and spread like wildfire throughout society. While there are a lot old wives’ tales surrounding cancer in general, but breast cancer myths seems to be more prevalent, for some reason. Possibly, because it’s one of the most well-documented and feared cancers throughout history due to it’s visibility when compared to other cancers that don’t display as clearly through lumps and abnormalities. As far back as 1600 BC, ancient Egyptian documents describe a form of breast cancer that could be seen and felt through the skin by way of the developing tumor(s).

With that said, there are plenty of resources available that try to distinguish truth from rumor. We’ve boiled down our list from a handful of other ‘Top 25’ and ‘Top 50’ breast cancer myth lists (that’s hard to say) to some of the less obvious ones below. While most are still common sense, you may be surprised to learn a preconceived notion or two you may have are only breast cancer myths.

Myth:

A family history of breast cancer likely means you will develop it too.

Truth:

This is only partially true. Approximately 75 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no identifiable risk factors for the disease. However, there are some family-history risks factors that you should be aware of.  If a parent, sibling or child (first degree relatives) has had breast cancer your risk of developing the disease roughly doubles. Second degree afflicted relatives, such as a grandmother or aunt, only slightly increase your chances to develop the disease and the odds are far less than first degree.

Myth:

If you find a lump in your breast it most certainly means you have breast cancer.

Truth:

The reality is that only a small percentage of breast lumps are cancerous. However, if you discover a persistent abscess and notice some irregularities in your breasts, it shouldn’t be ignored. Schedule a breast exam immediately and make sure you’re going in routinely for exams in the future.

Myth:

Breast implants can increase your cancer risk.

Truth:

While standard mammograms don’t always work as well on women with implants, they’re at no greater risk of getting breast cancer, according to research. X-rays are occasionally used when mammograms prove inconclusive.

Myth:

All women have a 1-in-8 chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime.

Truth:

Nope. The numbers, while still concerning, are actually 1-in-233. While the risk does increase while you age, but the odds aren’t 1-8 until you reach your late 80’s.

Myth:

Wearing chemical-based antiperspirant increases your risk of getting breast cancer.

Truth:

The National Cancer Institute and The American Cancer Society have not found any conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants and deodorants to the subsequent development of breast cancer.

Myth:

If you’re at a risk for breast cancer, there’s not much you can do except wait for the signs.

Truth:

Beyond being diligent with your own self-exams, women can do plenty to lower their risk of developing breast cancer. Regular exercise, lowering or eliminating alcohol intake, quit smoking, and report to the doctor for routine clinical exams and mammograms just for starters. Some high-risk women even choose to have a prophylactic mastectomy, which decreases their risk by roughly 90 percent. The important thing to keep in mind if you believe you are at a high risk is to talk with an expert who can evaluate your situation and discuss your options.


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