Unmasking Myths about Breast Cancer
By – Jemi Ekunkunbor
Breast cancer remains one of the most feared diseases by women. With prevalence rate put at over 1 million women per year, and death toll as high as 500,000 annually, fear has made several myths to be built around the deadly disease.
As we mark Breast Cancer awareness month this October, we took some of these troubling myths to Dr. Uche Okwe, a Public Health Physician to confirm or debunk their veracity. Here is what she said.
ANTIPERSPIRANTS AND DEODORANTS CAUSE BREAST CANCER
Underarm antiperspirants /deodorants have not been proven to cause breast cancer. This has been a myth for decades. Underarm antiperspirants are applied to the armpit or underarm close to the breasts. There is no link or evidence to back up the connection.
FINDING A LUMP IN YOUR BREAST MEANS YOU HAVE BREAST CANCER
Not all lumps indicate breast cancer. Some breast lumps are harmless. Breast lumps can be caused by cysts (Fluid filled sacs), injuries, inflammation, infections, abscesses, lipomas and benign lumps. The benign ones are fibroadenomas commonly seen in young ladies between the ages of 20-30 years. They are painless and can arise from anywhere in the breast. Some lumps go away especially those that are related to menstrual periods.
BREAST CANCER IS MORE COMMON IN WOMEN WITH BIGGER BREASTS
There is no link or connection between breast size and risk of cancer. Obesity puts women at a higher risk of cancer and women who are overweight often have larger breasts. This could be a reason for the myth.
A MAMMOGRAM CAN CAUSE BREAST CANCER TO SPREAD
A mammogram remains the gold standard for early detection of breast cancer. Breast compression while getting a mammogram cannot cause nor spread breast cancer. The tighter the compression during the procedure the more clearer image pictures are gotten for a proper diagnosis. Mammogram is recommended annually beginning at the age of 40 years.
CARRYING A PHONE IN YOUR BRA CAN CAUSE BREAST CANCER
This has been a controversial issue but experts on cancer research are still unsure of the link of phones to breast cancer. Doctors despite these unverifiable link always advice women to keep their phones away from their bras and other parts of the body.
THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO DECREASE YOUR BREAST CANCER RISK
So many things can be done to reduce risk. Limitation of alcohol and smoking, healthy weight maintenance, exercises are very important, breast feeding, Limit post-menopausal hormone therapy, addition of , fruits and vegetables to your diet, Tamoxifen for women at high risk, Breast Mammogram annually and Breast self examination done 7-10days after menstruation and a day monthly for menopausal women.
BRAS WITH UNDERWIRE CAN CAUSE BREAST CANCER
This myth started so many years ago. It has been claimed that underwire bras cause breast cancer by obstructing the lymphatic fluid flow close to the breast but there is NO scientific evidence to prove that underwire bras cause it.
CONSUMING SUGAR CAUSES BREAST CANCER
Sugar doesnt cause breast cancer. It causes weight gain and obesity. It is not carcinogenic. Sugar is high in calories and can lead to extra body fat and obesity which is a source of the estrogen hormone that increases the risk of breast cancer.
ONLY WOMEN WITH FAMILY HISTORY OF BREAST CANCER ARE AT RISK
Being a women already makes you at risk of breast cancer.75% of women who have breast cancer has no family history of breast cancer. Breast cancer occurrence is only higher if a woman has a mother, sister, daughter (first degree), relative or multiple family members on either father or mothers side of the family who have had breast or ovarian cancer. Having a first degree male relative with breast cancer also raises a woman’s risk.