Everything’s coming up pink this month. That’s because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Despite the educational efforts of health and cancer organizations, many individuals don’t know breast cancer facts from fiction. Here are seven common myths and the truths behind them.
Myth: Eating sugar promotes cell cancer growth
Truth: Studies show sugar consumption does not boost cell cancer growth, but it does lead to weight gain. Weight increase raises breast cancer risk. Limit the amount of sugary food and drinks you consume. Maintain a healthy weight and reach for fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish, chicken, beans and “good” fats like olive and canola oils to lower your risk.
Myth: Only women get breast cancer
Truth: Men have breast tissue, too! That means they can also get breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 2,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer in men will be diagnosed in 2018. What’s more, about 480 will die from the disease. Men should speak to their primary care physicians about getting screened.
Myth: Tucking a cell phone into a bra causes breast cancer
Truth: Tuck away! Researchers say mobile phones do not increase breast cancer risk or risk of any other cancer. Cell phones do emit radio waves or radiofrequency energy from their built-in antennas. Tissues closest to the antennas can absorb this energy. But studies show these radio waves do not cause the DNA damage that leads to cancer.
Myth: A lump in your breast means you have breast cancer
Truth: Most breast lumps are not cancer. If you discover a persistent lump during your routine self-exams, talk to your primary care doctor about a screening. Women over 40 should talk to their physician about when to start regular screenings. Women ages 50 to 74 should get a mammogram every two years. Guidelines for mammograms vary so it’s best to talk to your doctor about your history and risk factors to determine what’s right for you.
Myth: You'll get breast cancer because someone in your family had it
Truth: Relax. Women with a family history of breast cancer are at higher risk, but it’s no guarantee. In fact, only 10 percent of people diagnosed with the disease have a family history of breast cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider about regular screenings if you have relatives with breast cancer.
Myth: Deodorants and antiperspirants cause breast cancer
Truth: Keep on swiping. Scientists have been studying the relationship between the chemicals in your favorite underarm odor eater and raised breast cancer risk for the past 20 years. So far, the scientific evidence shows there’s no link between the two. Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re concerned.
Myth: Mammograms are expensive
Truth: Most insurance companies cover the cost of mammograms. Many national and community programs also offer free and low-cost mammograms. Contact your local hospital, imaging center or community health program for information or talk to your healthcare provider.