Breast cancer – Myths and facts

Breast cancer self check, healthy lifestyle concept. Young pretty woman examining her breast for lumps or signs of breast cancer

All of us have a partial view of diseases, and some of them are very susceptible to myths. For example, breast cancer is quite common in women and also it’s a disease that causes strong social stigma. This is generally the type of disease around which all kinds of myths are generated. These are some of them:

Myth 1: If you have a family member with breast cancer, you will too

In reality, only 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases have a true hereditary predisposition. But the risk of developing breast cancer increases up to 3-4 times if a woman has a history of breast cancer in a sister or in her mother. So, it is important to know if you have relatives with breast cancer. This is a risk factor, and it can be given relevance depending on the frequency of appearance of breast cancer in your family and other factors. Your doctor will do a questioning aimed at identifying patterns of hereditary cancer as part of your routine evaluation. If you think you have hereditary risk factors, discuss with your doctor the specialized evaluation of a geneticist, who may also consider conducting special tests such as detection of BRCA mutations.

Myth 2: By living a healthy life you should not worry about breast cancer

A healthy diet, limiting alcohol consumption, not smoking, and exercising regularly can lower your risk of breast cancer. But this does not mean that it should not be examined. A healthy life and regular visits to a gynecologist are the two tools that will help you stay healthy. For example, highly active women had a 14% lower risk of developing breast cancer compared with the least active women. And it seems dose dependent, the greater the physical activity, the greater the decrease. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to reduce your risk in a healthy and realistic way.

Myth 3: Some types of bras can cause breast cancer

There have been all kinds of assumptions regarding which bra to wear and which to avoid preventing breast cancer. However, so far scientific evidence does not point to bras as risk factors. No association found.

Myth 4: Carrying your mobile phone in your bra can cause breast cancer

Similarly, there are many assumptions that the radio waves from the phone can cause cancer. But, no clear association has been found between breast cancer and radio frequency waves.

Myth 5: Breast cancer only appear in women

It may seem hard to believe, but there are also men with breast cancer. The incidence of this disease in men is very low (almost one case in every 100 affects men). However, it is even more dangerous in men than in women, since they are not in the habit of examining themselves. Therefore, most cases are diagnosed in advanced stages, where healing opportunities are significantly reduced.

Hence lies the importance of always being vigilant, examining ourselves responsibly without anxiety or alarm. If you find something out of place or suspicious, remember that cancer is not the most common diagnosis. But in the same way, go to your gynecologist as soon as possible and follow his instructions.

With the collaboration of José F. Martínez Herrera, a specialist in oncology. Graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 2018. He also studied the specialty of Surgeon and Benemérita Midwife at the Autonomous University of Puebla in 2010.

You can identify your risk factors and speak to a specialist at no cost, as part of the 15 mins for a life campaign.

References:

  1. Breast Cancer
  2. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology, 11th edition.
  3. https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/breast-cancer/risks-causes/protective-factors
  4. Giordano SH. Breast Cancer in Men. N Engl J Med. 2018 Jun 14;378(24):2311-2320. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMra1707939. PMID: 29897847.


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