Fact vs. Fiction : Breast Cancer Myths Debunked

Flickr user Blueconitza

Did you know that women who detect their Breast Cancer in the earliest stages have a 98% survival rate? Science has made incredible breakthroughs in breast cancer research and women are now more proactive than ever when it comes to being aware of their health and breast cancer facts. That being said, there are still a few misconceptions and breast cancer myths floating around that we need to debunk.

  1. The only sign of breast cancer is a lump. So not true! Although lumps in the breast can be signs (but not always) of breast cancer, symptoms may come in many other forms as well. Keep an eye out for dimples, swelling, irritation or rashes, nipple retraction (turning inward), thickening of the breast skin, or a discharge. Breast cancer can also spread to underarm lymph nodes and cause swelling there before a tumor in the breast is large enough to be felt.
  2. Women with fibrocystic breast are more at risk. There is absolutely no link whatsoever to fibrocystic (lumpy) breast! However, it is very difficult to perform self exams when you have this condition. Women with fibrocystic breast should educate themselves on the correct way to perform an at home breast exam and conduct them often so they can distinguish between what is normal and out of the ordinary lumps.
  3. Antiperspirants increase your risk of breast cancer. Regardless of the American Cancer Society’s reassurance that this rumor is false, it has been around for years and years. There are no studies that show antiperspirants as a risk factor. However, it can’t hurt (yourself or the environment) to go paraben-free!
  4. If you’re at risk for breast cancer, there is nothing you can do. False! There is so much you can do to lower your risk of breast cancer.  Regular exercise, limited or no alcohol consumption, not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight are all easy life adjustments that can lower your risk. Other drastic but effective measures include preventive chemo and having a prophylactic mastectomy.
  5. Radiation in mammograms can be harmful. According to the American College of Radiology the risk of radiation is practically non-existent- the equivalent to two or three months of natural environmental exposure. Besides, the benefits and preventative measures clearly outweigh the tiny miniscule risk.  Mammograms are not going to give you cancer- quite the contrary; they could save your life!
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