Even in the information age, rumors and myths about certain health conditions still exist. Some of the most popular involve breast cancer — maybe you’ve even heard some breast cancer myths yourself.
It’s hard to pinpoint where these rumors come from, but there are many myths about breast cancer. While some are more outlandish than others, the fact remains that wrong ideas about breast cancer can stop good prevention and treatment efforts. It’s vitally important for you to know the facts about breast cancer so you can make important decisions about prevention and treatment. Here is what you should know about some of the most common breast cancers myths.
1. If You Find a Lump, It’s Definitely Breast Cancer
Tracey Gosse, the program manager at the UVA Breast Care Program, says, “This is the most common myth we hear … but this isn’t necessarily the case!” There are many types of noncancerous, or benign, masses that are found in breast tissue, including scarring, cysts and areas of dense breast tissue. These areas may feel unusual, and if you feel a lump, you should talk with your doctor as soon as possible. He or she will be able to order certain diagnostic tests, like a mammogram, that can help rule out cancer.
2. Wearing an Underwire Bra Causes Breast Cancer
Many women still have the idea that wearing an underwire bra can cause breast cancer, but a study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (from the American Association for Cancer Research) showed absolutely no correlation between the two. The study examined data from over 1,500 women, including cup size, the number of hours each day a bra was worn, whether or not the bras were underwire and the age at which each woman first started wearing bras. It was determined that wearing a bra doesn’t cause breast cancer.
3. Your Deodorant or Antiperspirant Can Cause Breast Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, there’s no strong evidence that shows deodorants and antiperspirants containing aluminum actually increase your risk of developing breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute agrees, saying there’s no scientific basis for this breast cancer myth.
4. Only Women Get Breast Cancer
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2017, as many as 2,470 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Unfortunately, men with breast cancer have higher mortality rates. This isn’t because men are just putting off going to their doctors — most men simply don’t know a lump could be breast cancer.
5. There’s Nothing You Can Do to Prevent Breast Cancer
There’s no sure way to prevent it, but there are still things you can do to lower your risk of developing breast cancer. By making certain lifestyle changes, you can help to take control of your health and lower your chances of developing cancer. Eating a healthy diet, exercising often, limiting alcohol consumption and maintaining a healthy weight can all help you reduce your risk. And of course, maintain annual, routine checkups with your doctors to keep your health top of mind.
Each month, you should also perform a breast self-examination, as the National Breast Cancer Foundation details. Gosse says, “Make sure you check your breasts every month, at the same time every month. You’ll recognize if something’s changed.” Since you know what your breasts feel like better than anyone else, this simple self-exam can help you catch any potential problems early.
If you have questions about breast cancer myths, talk with your doctor. If you find a lump, keep in mind that it’s not necessarily cancer, but still see your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor can help determine whether or not there is cause for concern.
The UVA Breast Care Program offers advanced diagnostic and screening options, personalized for women and men at risk of developing breast cancer.Learn More