Breast cancer is one of the most misunderstood diseases. There are a lot of myths that surround the disease and up to this day, many still believe them. It’s such myths and misconceptions that have led many to dismiss symptoms until it’s too late. Breast Cancer Awareness month started in 1985 with an aim of educating people about the disease and encouraging screening. It’s important to separate fact from fiction to help yourself and others who are facing this disease. Here are some common myths about breast cancer you should know about.
It Is Inherited
While all cancers are considered genetic, only about 5% to 10% of the risk is inherited through a family. It doesn’t always run in families and even in cases where there’s a family history, the risk is still low. Therefore, determining your risk by looking at your family history could lead to a wrong conclusion. Many cases are due to a combination of lifestyle factors and genetic susceptibilities such as exposure to radiation and lead poisoning.
It Always Appears As A Lump
At-home breast exams are highly encouraged to help diagnose the disease early. However, there are still a lot of myths surrounding the symptoms to check for. Many believe that a lump is a clear indication of breast cancer but according to research, approximately 10% of those diagnosed with breast cancer have no lumps or pain in their breasts. Additionally, the lumps detected are usually benign cysts. Some of the other symptoms you should check for include nipple discharge, change in shape and size of the breast, and scaly, red, or swollen skin of the breast, areola, or nipple.
Men Can’t Get It
Though this common myth has been debunked, there are people who still believe that breast cancer only affects women. Mutations in one of several genes, especially a gene called BRCA2, put men at risk of developing breast and prostate cancers. Additionally, exposure to estrogen, age, liver disease, and obesity all increase the risk of the disease in men. Since few men go for screening, it leaves them prone to succumbing to the disease due to late diagnosis. It’s necessary to visit a doctor if you notice any unusual symptoms in your breast.
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IVF Increases The Chance Of Breast Cancer
Doctors often prescribe drugs that stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs during the in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure which has made many speculate on the increased risk of developing breast cancer. The drugs mimic the activity of estrogen and some cancer cells have estrogen receptors on their membranes. However, observational studies over the past 30 years concluded that there is no increase in breast cancer risk for women who received ovarian stimulation drugs compared with the general population. Things You Should Know Before Starting IVF
It Only Affects Older People
The risk of getting breast cancer increases as people age, and the average age of new cases is 61 years. However, it can occur as early as your 20s and even in your teens. People with a strong family history have a higher chance of developing the disease at a young age. When it is diagnosed at a young age, it’s more likely to be aggressive and spread quickly. However, this type of cancer responds well to treatment. Therefore, getting treatment as soon as possible could stop cancer from growing even in advanced stages.
Deodorants Can Cause It
This myth started years ago from spam emails that claimed deodorants caused breast cancer due to their chemical content that can make their way into the cells. One of those chemicals is aluminum. However, there’s no convincing evidence linking the two together. To be safe, try to avoid products containing aluminum. You can switch to natural deodorants such as baking powder, rose water, and lemon grass spray. 5 Natural Deodorant Alternatives That You Should Try
7. Contraceptive Increase Your Risk
Just like IVF treatment, there are some who believe that some contraceptives increase your risk of getting breast cancer since they alter estrogen levels. However, a study conducted in 2002 found that there was no association between contraceptives and an increased risk of breast cancer among women who had the BRCA2 mutation. However, for women with the BRCA1 mutation, there was a slight risk. For women who had the BRCA1 mutation and other characteristics, the risk was significantly higher. Therefore, before taking birth control, make sure you get screened for certain gene mutations.
8. Men Sucking Women’s Breasts Can Stop Breast Cancer
There are rumours stating that women should have their breasts sucked regularly to lower the risk of breast cancer. This became viral news and people have believed this claim to this day. However, there is no scientific proof that breast sucking lowers the risk of the disease. Men can only help detect lumps or other abnormalities early enough to get treatment. Breastfeeding, on the other hand, is known to give some protection against the disease. Check out the Daily Nation article Men sucking women’s breasts won’t stop cancer, but breastfeeding a baby can
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