Tag Archives: National Cancer Institute

Straight, No Chaser: (El)even More Myths Regarding Breast Cancer


Continuing from the earlier post with additional myths, well because you have so many questions!  In fact, I’m doubling up on what you received earlier in Part I of Breast Cancer Myths.  

6. “Breast cancer is preventable.”

  • Unfortunately, this is not true.  All of our efforts are geared toward lowering risks, early detection and effective treatment.

7. The risk of breast cancer isn’t affected by obesity.

  • Not true. The risk is particularly increased in post-menopausal women with weight gain.

8. African-American women have an increased risk due to hair straighteners and relaxers.

  • This myth was taken head on and debunked by the National Cancer Institute in a large 2007 study including women with significant use over a 20-year period.

9. Caffeine causes breast cancer.

  • Not according to the evidence. There’s even evidence suggesting a benefit, but the data on this is just as inconclusive as that suggesting a link to breast cancer.

10. Mammograms increase breast cancer risk due to the radiation load.

  • The risks of radiation are so relatively insignificant that they’re mentioned as an afterthought compared to the benefits received from early and frequent evaluation.

11. “Tight clothes and underwire bras will make me get breast cancer.”

  • Not true. Neither has any connection to breast cancer.

12. “I was told small breasts give me less of a chance of having cancer!”

  • Not true. Larger breasts are sometimes more difficult to evaluate, but that’s not the same as saying the risk of cancer is increased in women with larger breasts.

13. “These lumps I have are ok because I’m breastfeeding.”

  • The fact you can discover normal changes in your breast tissue doesn’t mean that all lumps discovered while breastfeeding are normal. Get evaluated.

14. “Deodorant and tanning cause breast cancer, don’t they?”

  • No. Cell phones don’t either. Tanning does increase the risk of skin cancer, but that’s a topic for another day.

15. “I heard having a baby when I’m older increases my risk of breast cancer.”

  • Well, not just any baby, but having one’s first baby later in life is a significant consideration. Women who give birth for the first time after age 35 are 40 percent more likely to get breast cancer than women who have their first child before age 20.

16. “Breast cancer is a death sentence.”

  • Most women survive breast cancer. Give yourself the best opportunity to do so by reducing your risks, learning the principles of early detection and getting prompt treatment if ever diagnosed. We’ll focus on these considerations in the next posts.

Copyright © 2013 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Five Myths Surrounding Breast Cancer


Before I get into the details of what you need to know about breast cancer, it’s important to clear the table of some of the persistent myths and fears that exist. The disease is tough enough as it is without the fear factor impeding our ability to fight back. Please be patient with me here. If you find these myths ridiculous, then good for you, as it indicates that you’re informed on the matter. Just understand that these are real questions that other physicians and I hear often. Remember, knowledge is power.
1. “If a family member of mine has breast cancer, that means I’ll get it too.”

  • It is only true to say that women who have a family history of breast cancer have a higher risk of developing it. Overall, only approximately 10% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family cancer, and most women with breast cancer have no family history. In other words, a family member with breast cancer isn’t a life sentence for you, and it shouldn’t stop your efforts to lower your other risks and focus on early detection and treatment.

2. “All lumps in my breast are breast cancer.”

  • There are two important points for you to remember. First, any persistent change in the breast or armpit (axilla) should not be ignored. Remember, I will be stressing the importance of early evaluation for the purposes of detection. That said, only a small percentage of breast changes represent cancer (about 80% of lumps are benign). The really good news is if you learn and perform consistent breast exams, you will detect these changes earlier than anyone else and very often early enough to make a difference.

3. “Men don’t get breast cancer.”

  • Unfortunately, I know this not to be the case within my family. Annually, there are over 400 breast cancer deaths among men from over 2000 new cases being diagnosed. Men should pay attention just as women do because unfortunately, in part due to the delayed detection, the death rate of breast cancer in men is higher than in women.

4. “I heard breast implants cause cancer.”

  • No. There’s no increased risk with breast implants and breast cancer. However, you can legitimately say implants sometimes obscure the view of possible cancer on a mammogram.

5. “The risk of breast cancer is always 1 in 8.”

  • Actually it’s 1 in 8 during a woman’s lifetime. The important distinction is the risk increases as one ages, from 1 in 233 in a woman’s 30s up to 1 in 8 across the board by age 85.

Check back this afternoon for even more breast cancer facts and myths busted.
Copyright © 2013 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress