Breast cancer is one of the more-talked-about types of cancer. Yet, there are still myths and misconceptions that prevail despite advances in research and treatments. Developing cancer is a terrifying thought. And the misconceptions you’re often told might even add to your fear.
Here are common myths about breast cancer debunked.
Myth 1: A lump in your breast means you have breast cancer
Not all breast lumps are immediately a sign of breast cancer. They’re benign, or non-cancerous, most of the time. Also, it’s possible for breast cancer to develop without causing a lump.
It’s best to perform self-breast exams every month to keep an eye on your breast health and spot any unusual changes, as well as going under mammography regularly since lumps don’t always develop.
Myth 2: Men don’t get breast cancer; only women do
Men have a different breast structure from women, but they can also develop breast cancer. That’s why men should also perform breast self-exams.
Breast cancer in men is often detected as a hard lump under the nipple and areola. Men have a higher mortality rate compared to women because there’s less awareness and they rarely consider the lump to be breast cancer. This can delay seeking diagnosis and receiving proper treatment.
Myth 3: You’ll likely develop breast cancer if it runs in the family
Women with a family history of breast cancer have a higher risk of developing it, but only 5-10% of breast cancer cases are believed to be genetic. The majority of people who develop breast cancer have no family history. This means that risk factors such as lifestyle, environment, and age are at play.
Myth 4: Deodorants and antiperspirants cause breast cancer
One of the long-standing myths is that deodorants and antiperspirants cause breast cancer.
A theory suggests that the lymph nodes absorb the aluminum and other chemicals in the product, and make their way into breast cells.
According to another theory, antiperspirants prevent the underarms from releasing sweat and the lymph nodes from ridding themselves of toxic substances; thus, causing breast cancer.
However, there is no strong evidence that proves the link between breast cancer and antiperspirant use.
Myth 5: Underwire bras cause breast cancer
Another popular myth is that wearing bras — especially those with underwires — restricts lymph node fluids from flowing freely, causing toxins to build up and lead to cancer.
Bras that are too tight or small may cause discomfort, pain, or swelling, but there is no research proving that bras cause cancer.
Myth 6: Squeezing or being hit in the breast cause breast cancer
Hitting, pinching, or squeezing the breast or nipples don’t cause cancer. But it may cause some swelling and bruising, which can be tender or painful when touched.
Myth 7: Cell phones can cause breast cancer
There’s no study that shows radiation from cell phones causes breast cancer. However, manufacturers still recommend keeping your gadget away from your body as much as possible.