Breast Cancer: Myths Vs. Facts
Personally, I know 3 women in my social and family circle who have been detected with breast cancer in the past year itself.Being a woman, and having a daughter, this disease scares me. I try to stay abreast with the constantly changing medical news on breast cancer. The overload of information out there, however, can be mind-boggling for anyone. So, let’s start from the basics.
What are the breast cancer symptoms I should know?
There are some signs that can alert you to the fact that something may be wrong, and you should definitely get it checked out by a doctor:
- A lump that doesn’t disappear within a few days after your period
- Breast pain
- Swelling of the breast, and around it
- Dimpling of nipples that hurt
- Leaky liquid from the nipples
- Redness or thickening of the skin around the breast
The most common breast cancer myths you shouldn’t fall for:
Myth #1: If there is a lump in your breast, it means you have breast cancer.
Fact: The hormonal fluctuations in our body are constantly having an effect on our body’s tissues and muscles. When you’re about to begin your period or have been breastfeeding, there are chances of lumps or cysts forming. This does not, however, mean that every lump is malignant and should be ignored. If you do find a lump, get it checked. Do not, I repeat, do not arrive at a breast cancer diagnosis yourself.
Myth #2: Breast cancer can be caused by underwire bras.
Fact: There are claims that underwire bras press down on the lymph nodes of the breast, and could be causing toxins to accumulate. This theory is not true and has been widely debunked as unscientific. There are enough studies carried out that show that there is no link between the type of bra you wear or the tightness of your underwear, and breast cancer risk.
Myth #3: Antiperspirants and deodorants can cause breast cancer.
Fact: A lot of people have moved to using organic deodorants in the wake of the worry that chemicals in common products such as antiperspirants and deodorants could cause breast cancer. However, there is no good scientific evidence to show that these affect or increase the risk of one contracting breast cancer. Parabens, used as preservatives in antiperspirants, were found in some malignant tumours. However, nothing could be linked. According to www.breastcancer.org, most cancer-causing substances are removed by the kidneys, and released through urine or processed by the liver. The body’s toxins are cleared by the lymph nodes, and not via the sweat glands.
Myth #4: Only women can get breast cancer, not men.
Fact: Men are also susceptible to breast cancer. Reports show that of all breast cancer diagnoses around the world, approximately 2,190 are men every year. Men have a higher mortality rate, because most men are not aware that they can also get breast cancer. Breast cancer in men is usually detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola. Since men don’t know what they’re looking for, it goes undetected till it’s too late. Here is what Dr Sanket Shah, a surgical oncologist, has to say about breast cancer in men.
Myth #5: Breast cancer runs in the family.
Fact: Most cases of breast cancer are not hereditary. Only 5 per cent of the cases are thought to be family linked. Breast cancer occurs largely due to environmental and lifestyle factors. A person who believes this myth runs the risk of thinking that there is nothing they can do to prevent breast cancer, if it is already in their family. Genetic testing can help you understand your inherited risk and can allow you to make choices about your future care. You can do your part towards breast cancer prevention by maintaining a healthy weight, limiting your alcohol intake, and following an active lifestyle.
Breast cancer prevention
Now, the unfortunate part of this disease is that there are no known definite reasons or identifiable factors that can prevent women from getting breast cancer.
Breast cancer is believed to occur largely by chance. Doctors and scientists are still searching for the trigger behind this deadly disease.
- But they do recommend that you can definitely lower your breast cancer risk by reducing your weight and staying within healthy numbers, getting regular screenings (especially if you have a family history of breast cancer), and exercising regularly.
- Smoking has been linked to breast cancer in premenopausal women. So, avoid that unhealthy habit.
- Doctors also recommend limiting the dose and duration of hormone therapy in menopausal women because some studies in the past have linked prolonged hormone therapy (over 5 years) to an increased breast cancer risk.
- Lastly, medical procedures that involve high dose radiation like computerised tomography (CT scan) should only be carried out when absolutely necessary.
Prevention is, in every single case, better than cure. Click here to get a dose of inspiration from these Hollywood stars who beat breast cancer.