Whether you’ve donned an all-pink outfit for an October sporting event or walked all night at your local community’s Relay for Life, you’ve likely had some first-hand experience with cancer research fundraising. While fighting cancer is almost a community pastime by now, mystery and misconception still shroud cancer research. Even breast cancer, with its national awareness month in October and trademark pink ribbon, can be easily misunderstood. Can you separate fact from fiction when it comes to these three breast cancer myths?
Myth: Most breast cancers are inherited
While it’s widely believed that most breast cancers stem from genetics, that’s actually far from the truth. According to the American Cancer Society, only 5–10% of breast cancer cases are believed to come from hereditary mutations. Factors such as breast tissue density, race and ethnicity, and age are more common in breast cancer cases than hereditary causes.
Myth: Deodorant, bras, and caffeinated beverages can cause breast cancer
Healthline reports family history, obesity, and radiation exposure as three notable risk factors of breast cancer. However, over the past several years, the rumor mill has churned out old wives’ tales about antiperspirant deodorant, underwire bras, and even coffee contributing to breast cancer. Numerous studies on all three topics have proven the accusations false. In fact, as the Healthline article details, high levels of coffee consumption post-menopause have been shown to lessen the risk of developing breast cancer.
Myth: Mammograms can cause—or worsen—breast cancer
While it’s essential to receive a professional breast examination every one to three years, that isn’t the only way to check for breast cancer. Women entering their 40s usually have one mammogram annually, and for a good reason. As Mayo Clinic doctor and consultant Sandhya Pruthi reports, “Findings from randomized trials of women in their 40s and 50s have demonstrated that screening mammograms decrease breast cancer deaths by 15 to 29 percent.” Mammograms require minimal radiation, and pressure on the breasts does not cause cancer cells to spread, which means a mammogram is an ideal way to check for breast cancer.
It’s natural to fear a cancer diagnosis—or even the prospect of a cancer diagnosis. Still, it’s crucial to discern what’s a myth, and what’s the truth. While there’s still much ground to cover in the realm of breast cancer research, there is plenty that we do understand. So, keep drinking coffee, get your annual mammogram, and conduct self-examinations—yes, even you men out there.