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Nov 27, 2007

10 Breast Cancer Myths Debunked

Rumours I have heard over the years surrounding breast cancer: using anti perspirants, hormone replacement therapy, birth control pills or wearing underwire bras.
I have even read some studies showing that examining your breasts and getting mammograms are useless.

How to separate facts from fictions? What is true today, might be proved wrong tomorrow. Sticking to the ‘true-today’ category, here are some breast cancer myths debunked:

Myth 1Having a risk factor for breast cancer means you’ll develop the disease
According to some studies, there are various factors that may increase your risk of developing breast cancer including: smoking, drinking (more than five alcoholic drinks per week year after year), getting your first menstrual period before age 12, continuing to have periods after age 55, and not having your first full-term until after age 30.

I have a dear friend who developed breast cancer and: she had the first full-term pregnancy before she turned 30, did not smoke or drink and ,I think, she did not have her period before age 12.

Even an inherited genetic abnormality in your family doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get breast cancer. In fact only about 10 per cent of all cases of breast cancer are due to inherited genetic abnormality.
Myth 2: If there is no breast cancer in your family, then you’re not at risk for the disease.
Every woman is at risk for breast cancer. So are some men. About 85 percent of women who develop the disease don’t have a family history.
Myth 3: Breast cancer is passed only from your mother, not your father
We now know that breast cancer genes can be inherited from your dad’s side of the family. So ask relatives about cases on both sides and in both men and women. About 2,000 cases of male breast cancer are diagnosed in the US each year. In fact, male breast cancer is most closely associated with a BRCA2 abnormality. So if there’s a man in the family who’s had breast cancer, be sure to tell your doctor.
Myth 4: No matter what your risk factors are, you really don’t have to worry about breast cancer until you’re through menopause.The odds of getting the disease do increase as you age. But breast cancer can occur at any age. That’s why all women need to be vigilant. Though experts recommend yearly mammograms starting at age 40, your doctor may suggest that you start even earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer at a young age.
Mammography isn’t the ideal screening test for women younger than 40 because it can’t “see through” their dense breast tissue. So your doctor may also recommend ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Myth 5:  Wearing a bra or using antiperspirants and deodorants increases your risk of breast cancer.These are rumors that never seem to quit. It’s not true that wearing a bra, especially underwire bras, traps toxins by limiting lymph and bloodflow in your breasts, increasing risk. There’s also no proof that antiperspirants and deodorants cause cancer by keeping the body from sweating out the cancer-causing substances that build up in the breasts, or because they contain harmful chemicals that are absorbed through the skin.
Myth 6: If you have small breasts, you’re much less likely to get breast cancer.Size doesn’t matter. Anyone with breasts can get it.
Myth 7:: Research shows that using hormone therapy (HT) ” even for a short period of time — causes breast cancer.
A major study found that HT combining estrogen and progestin increased risks of invasive breast cancer slightly. Another study also showed that combination therapy boosts breast cancer risk somewhat, however, it was able to offer some reassurance: This risk appeared to return to normal within a year or so after women stopped using the therapy. It’s important to note that no studies have found a boost in breast cancer risk for women using estrogen-only therapy.
Hormone therapy is prescribed solely for women who have had hysterectomies, because estrogen taken alone can cause cancer in the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer).
So, if you take estrogen-only you are not going to develop breast cancer, but you are possibly developing endometrial cancer. With HT you are safe from the endometrial cancer point of view, but you might be developing breast cancer.
Myth 8: Eating high-fat foods and dairy products boosts your risk.
A number of studies have found that women who live in countries where diets tend to be lower in fat have a lower risk of breast cancer, but probably there may be other reasons: they exercise more, eat less, weigh less, smoke less, or have a different genetic profile or environmental interaction that makes them less susceptible.
One thing that seems to stand true: Postmenopausal obesity is a risk factor that does put people at risk for breast and other cancers.
As for dairy products, the study results are mixed. Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study, a large-scale study of 120,000 women, recently found that premenopausal women who ate a lot of dairy products, especially low-fat and fat-free ones, ran a lower risk of breast cancer. The study found no link between dairy product consumption and breast cancer risk in women who are past menopause.
Myth 9:  Mammograms can prevent breast cancer.
The truth: While mammograms can detect breast cancer, they can’t prevent it.
Myth 10: Some studies actually show mammograms are worthless.
Two studies, including a review study done by Danish scientists, did suggest that getting a regular mammogram didn’t lower a woman’s risk of dying of breast cancer. But several other studies, including one done by the US Preventive Services Task Force, totally disagree. You can maximize the benefit of mammography screening by seeking out the best facilities and staff in your area, like radiologists who read more than 300 mammograms a month.

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