Pink and blue breast cancer ribbons - photo via Max Pixel
CAIRO – 22 October 2017: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual occasion to increase awareness of the disease. If you perform a quick search on the disease, you will find tremendous information on contributing factors to the risk of breast cancer, including some types of food, drinks, cleaning materials and even devices. This information leads to confusion on what to believe as fact and what to ignore as a myth.
Marking this important awareness-raising month, we present to you this information on five of the most circulated myths about the disease.
Myth #1: Drinking milk (or dairy) causes breast cancer
Some early studies raised concerns about the correlation between drinking milk from cows treated with hormones and the risk of cancer. The truth is that over many decades, studies failed to find a clear link and have shown that dairy consumption does not increase the risk of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Moreover, the International Journal of Epidemiology published in 2002 the results of 20 studies on the relationship between dairy and increased risk of cancer. All the studies showed that there is no significant association between intakes of total dairy fluids or solids and breast cancer.
Myth #2: Antiperspirants and deodorants cause breast cancer
The truth is that there is no conclusive evidence on links between the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Some people have concerns that deodorants and antiperspirants block the body from sweating toxin which might build up in the lymph glands under the armpit causing breast cancer. But the human body has several other ways of disposing of toxins that do not involve the lymph glands. Furthermore, the “Breast Cancer Care” initiative explained there is also no evidence ingredients used in deodorants and antiperspirants like aluminum or parabens cause breast cancer.
Myth #3: Finding a lump in your breast means you have breast cancer
The truth is that only a small percentage of breast lumps are cancer. However, it is very important to see a physician for a clinical breast exam if you notice a persistent lump in the breast or any changes in breast tissue. A physician is the only one who can determine whether this lump or change is of concern or not. Furthermore, it is essential to keep the habit of performing routine breast self-exams and getting an annual clinical breast exam, including scheduling routine mammograms.
Myth #4: Men do not get breast cancer, it is a women’s only disease
While the percentage of breast cancer occurrence is small among men, they are also affected by the disease. In fact, breast cancer leads to higher mortality among men compared to women as a result of the lack of awareness that they can also be affected by the disease, which leads to delay in seeking treatment.
Men should also check themselves periodically by doing a breast self-exam in the shower to discover any hard lump underneath the nipple and areola so that they can report these changes to their physicians.
Myth #5: A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread
The truth is that any breast compression while getting a mammogram cannot cause cancer to spread. Also, the benefits of mammograms outweigh the potential harm from radiation exposure as they require very small doses of radiation, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The standard recommendation is an annual mammographic screening for women and men, in addition to any other recommendation by the physician.
Myth #6: Breast cancer is contagious
Breast cancer cannot transfer to someone else’s body. The disease results of uncontrolled cell growth of mutated cells that begin to spread into other tissues within the breast. Everyone can reduce their risk of being affected by the disease by practicing a healthy lifestyle and being aware of the risk factors and following an early detection routine.
There are some things that can help us avoid breast cancer like keeping a healthy weight, paying attention to your alcohol consumption, stop smoking and keeping active. While there are some factors that we cannot control like aging and exposure to high levels of radiation can increase the risk of breast cancer.