There is a lot of information out there about breast cancer. So, what’s true and what’s not. Let’s debunk seven common myths.
MYTH 1: Only women with a family history of breast cancer are at risk.
- FACT: Only about 13 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a first-degree female relative (mother, sister or daughter) with the disease. No one knows the exact causes of breast cancer or why one woman develops breast cancer and another doesn’t. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, what we do know is that breast cancer is always caused by damage to a cell’s DNA.
MYTH 2: Drinking red wine is good for my health.
- FACT: It’s tempting to believe, but when it comes to cancer, no amount of alcohol is safe. Alcohol was declared a carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 1988. The more alcohol that a person drinks, the higher the risk. Drinking alcohol regularly increases risk of seven cancers, including breast cancer.
MYTH 3: Antiperspirants and deodorants cause breast cancer.
- FACT: Researchers at the National Cancer Institute are not aware of any conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer.
MYTH 4: Being a little overweight has no effect on my cancer risk.
- FACT: Sadly, it does. Any amount of excess body fat raises the risk to some degree.
MYTH 5: Most breast lumps are cancerous.
- FACT: Roughly 80 percent of lumps in women’s breasts are caused by benign (noncancerous) changes, cysts, or other conditions. Doctors encourage women to report any changes at all, however, because catching breast cancer early is so beneficial. Your doctor may recommend a mammogram, ultrasound or biopsy to determine whether a lump is cancerous.
MYTH 6: All women have a 1-in-8 chance of getting breast cancer.
- FACT: Your risk increases as you get older. A woman’s chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer is about 1 in 233 when she’s in her 30s and rises to 1 in 8 by the time she’s reached 85.
MYTH 7: Breast cancer is preventable.
- FACT: Alas, no. Although it is possible to identify risk factors and lifestyle changes that can lower your risk, roughly 70 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no identifiable risk factors, meaning that the disease occurs largely by as-yet-unexplained factors.
Contributing sources: American Institute for Cancer Research; American Cancer Society; Komen.org; National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc.; CDC; National Cancer Institute
The information on this blog is provided for general information purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, care, treatment or evaluation; nor should it be used in diagnosing a health condition. You are encouraged to consult your health care provider if you or a family member has or suspect you have a medical problem.