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Top 10 Breast Cancer Myths

  • Past breast cancer resolution
  • Top 10 (including one that may be in question) and the that debunk them
  • Additional myths to keep the reader thinking and to promote breast cancer awareness
  • The idea of breast cancer chemotherapy


Breast cancer is a sneaky enemy. It can hide is the smallest of places where sometimes even a mammogram can’t find it. It can appear as part of the normal texture and quietly grow. Not enough research was done in the past, so doctors chose to just hack off a breast to get rid of the problem. It has been said that it the doctors doing the research were women, that radical course of treatment would not have been the most popular. More and more women are having mammograms done each year. Still, there are the uninsured and the unaware that base their belief that they won’t get breast cancer on myths and stories. If you are a woman or have a sister, mother, aunt or grandmother: You need to read the top ten myths of breast cancer as part of your breast cancer awareness.

1} Only women with a family history of breast cancer need to be concerned.

This is one of the biggest breast cancer myths. Approximately 70 percent of the women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have any identifiable risk factors. However, having one first-degree relative (a parent, sibling or child) that had breast cancer gives you an approximate double risk factor. If you have two or more fist-degree relatives with the disease, you are now in the increased risk area.

2} I am too young to get breast cancer

While the percentages of women under 35 are small, the potential is still there. The risk factors increase as you age. It’s important to maintain correct information and get the right breast cancer facts.

3} Wearing an underwire bra will increase my chances of getting breast cancer

This is considered to be one of the urban breast cancer myths. There were claims that underwire bras compress the lymphatic system of the breast causing toxins to accumulate. These claims have been debunked as unscientific. The consensus is that neither the type of bra worn nor the tightness has any connection to breast cancer risk.

4} Most breast lumps are cancerous

Approximately 80 percent of the breast lumps found is caused by benign changes, cysts and other conditions. Doctors recommend that any breast change should be reported. Your physician may request a mammogram, ultrasound or biopsy to determine if the change is cancerous.

5} Exposing a tumor to the air during surgery causes cancer to spread

As far as scientists can tell from research done so far, surgery doesn’t cause cancer to spread. Surgery may expose the fact that cancer is more widespread more than previously thought. Although not found in humans, some animal studies have shown that removing the primary tumor has allowed some metastatic cancers to grow.

6} Breast implants can raise your cancer risk

Women with breast implants do not have any higher risk factors than other women. There have been other problems associated with breast implants, including implant rupture and silicone leakage.

7} All women have a one in eight chance of getting breast cancer

A major part of breast cancer awareness is getting at the truth. While your chance of getting breast cancer increases as you get older, a woman’s risk factor is about 1 in 233 by the age of 30 and 1 in 8 by the time she has reached 80. Approximately 5 percent to 10 percent of the roughly 200,000 American women diagnosed with breast cancer each year have an inherited gene mutation (BRCA-1 and BRCA-2) that puts them at higher risk for developing the disease. Today’s treatments can vary from a minor lumpectomy to full treatment including breast cancer chemotherapy.

8} Using antiperspirant increases your chances of getting breast cancer

Although the American Cancer Society has indicated this is not so, they admit that more research needs to be done in this area. One small study did find traces of parabens in tiny breast cancer tumor sample. Parabens are used as preservatives in some antiperspirants and have weak estrogen-like properties. The study could not correlate any connection between the parabens and breast cancer nor identify the source of the parabens. This is a bit of a controversial topic. According to the Natural Medicine website: “Aluminum, a common ingredient in deodorant and antiperspirant, is often linked to Alzheimer’s and brain disorders and is a possible risk factor in breast cancer.”

9} Small-breasted women have less chance of getting cancer

There is no link between the size of a woman’s breast and the risk of getting breast cancer. Larger breasts may be more difficult to examine using clinical breast exams. All women, no matter what the breast size, should have medical examinations.

10} Breast cancer is always in a lump form

While a lump may indicate breast cancer, it can also be one of the many benign breast conditions. Women should pay attention to any breast change including: swelling, breast or nipple pain, dimpling or skin irritation, nipple retraction (turning inward), scaling or thickening of the breast area, redness or discharge from the nipple other than milk. Mammograms may detect cancer that had no symptom at all. Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare type that doesn’t include a lump. Symptoms include: swelling, redness, itchiness, warmth of the breast, tenderness and pain, skin that appears thick and pitted (like an orange peel) or with ridges and small bumps, a breast area that appears bruised or swollen lymph nodes under the arm.

It is astounding that our society has shared so little true information and yet spreads a wealth of breast cancer myths. Misinformation abounds. For example, did you know that you can get breast cancer after a mastectomy? Men also get breast cancer. There is no correlation between caffeine and breast cancer. Some women have fibrocystic (lumpy) breasts and have no higher risk for cancer. Mammograms do not expose you to a higher risk factor for cancer.

If you are ever in question about a breast change, always seek counseling from your medical provider.

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.