…Debunking breast cancer myths and misconceptions.
In today’s society of information overload, there’s a whole lot being said about breast cancer that just isn’t true. Knowledge, they say, is power hence our resolve to separate the wheat from the chaff by debunking, with facts, some of these myths and misconceptions associated with breast cancer.
- IT’S NOT TRUE that only women with a family history of breast cancer are at risk.
*Only about 10% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of this disease.
- IT’S NOT TRUE that the type of bra you wear or how tight it is increases your risk of getting breast cancer.
*These claims have been widely debunked as unscientific.
- IT’S NOT TRUE that all breast lumps are cancerous.
*So don’t panic! About 80% of lumps in women’s breasts are benign however;women are advised to report all changes to their Doctor.
- IT’S NOT TRUE that Breast implants can raise your cancer risk.
*Although Silicone implants may cause formation of scar tissue in the breast, studies have shown that they do not increase your breast cancer risk.However, standard mammograms don’t always work as well on these women, so additional X-rays are sometimes needed to examine breast tissue properly.
- IT’S NOT TRUE that antiperspirants cause cancer.
*Research has focused on Parabens, a preservative found in some antiperspirants, cosmetics, food and pharmaceutical products. This is because it was found in a sample of cancerous tissues taken from the breast. However since the study did not analyze healthy breast tissue and clearly did not demonstrate that parabens are found only in cancerous breast tissue, it’s been ruled inconclusive. Furthermore, they did not identify the source of the parabens and could not establish that its build up was exclusiely due to use of antiperspirants. Bottom line? There’s reason to be mindful but not paranoid. If it helps you rest easy, use paraben-free products.
- IT’S NOT TRUE that women with small breasts have a lesser chance of getting breast cancer.
*There’s just no connection between breast size and breast cancer risk however, very large breasts may be more difficult to examine and even mammograms and MRI more difficult to conduct.
- IT’S NOT TRUE that annual mammograms expose you to so much radiation that they increase your risk of cancer.
*While it’s true that radiation is used in mammography, the amount is so small that any associated risks are tiny when compared to its huge preventive benefits.
- IT’S NOT TRUE that men don’t have Breast cancer.
*Quite the contrary, each year it is estimated that approximately 2,190 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 410 will die. While this percentage is still small, men should also check themselves periodically by doing a breast self-exam while in the shower and reporting any changes to their physicians.
Breast cancer in men is usually detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola. Men carry a higher mortality than women do, primarily because awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment.
- IT’S NOT TRUE that using mobile phones or microwaves increase your breast cancer risk.
There’s no good evidence to suggest that exposure to ‘non-ionizing radiation’, such as that from mobile phones or microwaves has any effect on your risk of developing breast cancer.
The confusion behind these rumors may be linked to the fact that another type of radiation, known as ‘ionizing radiation’ can increase the risk of many cancers, including breast cancer, but it’s still dependent on the amount you’re exposed to.
- IT’S NOT TRUE that a lump is the only sign of breast cancer.
*Other signs to look out for includeswelling; skin irritation or dimpling; breast or nipple pain; nipple retraction (turning inward); redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin; or a discharge other than breast milk. Breast cancer can cause lymph node swelling in the armpit before a tumor in the breast is large enough to be felt. Luckily, a mammogram may pick up breast cancer before symptoms begin to manifest.
Dr. Ugonna .N. Ajoku.