8 Breast Cancer Myths
Myth: You’re more likely to get breast cancer if you are older
The truth is that although the risk of breast cancer increases as we become older, breast cancer is likely to occur at any age. One woman in 231 younger than 39 years of age will get breast cancer. Between the ages of 40 and 59, the risk becomes one in 25 women. From the age of 60 – 79, the risk is one in 15 women. If you live to the age of 90, your risk of getting breast cancer over an entire lifetime is one in 7.
Myth: If you have greater risk factors for breast cancer, you are more likely to get it
The truth is that getting breast cancer is not certain. Even if you have a stronger risk factor such as a breast cancer gene it is not certain that you will develop it. Out of the women with the inherited breast cancer gene, between 40 and 80% will develop cancer over their lifetime. 20-60% will not.
Myth: If breast cancer doesn’t run in your genes you won’t get it
The truth is that almost 80% of women who get breast cancer have no known family history of breast cancer. The biggest single risk factor is aging. For women who do have family history of breast cancer, the risk may go up, or not at all. Talk to your doctor about your family history if you are worried.
Myth: You can only get breast cancer if it comes from your mothers side of the family
The truth is that a history of breast cancer from either side of your family will affect your risk equally. Half of your genes come from your mother, and half of your genes come from your father. A man with a breast cancer gene abnormality is less likely to get breast cancer than a woman with a similar gene. If you would like to find out about your fathers family history, look at both the women and the men in his family.
Myth: Antiperspirants cause breast cancer
The truth is that there is no solid evidence that the ingredients in antiperspirants affect your risk of breast cancer. It is possible that certain products containing carcinogens can contribute to a an already existing breast cancer development, but antiperspirants alone will have no effect on your risk of developing cancer.
Myth: Birth control pills cause breast cancer
The truth is that there is no relationship between modern day estrogen and progesterone birth control pills and a risk of developing breast cancer. One study did show that there is a very small increase in the risk of developing breast cancer by using birth control, but after time the slight increase began to decrease. After 10 years birth control pills did not show any association with breast cancer development. In fact, birth control pills have been found to reduce certain cancer risks such as ovarian and endometrial cancer.
Myth: I cannot change that fact that I am at risk of developing breast cancer
The truth is there are things you can do to decrease your risk of developing breast cancer if you have the breast cancer gene. Lifestyle changes are the most effective way to reduce your risk. Minimize your alcohol intake, don’t smoke, and exercise regularly to improve your health and reduce your risk. Remember to have regular breast exams and mammograms to watch for cancerous lumps. There are also medicinal options for women with a high risk of breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about your risk of developing breast cancer.
Myth: Eating foods high in fat causes breast cancer
The truth is that there is no definite relationship between eating fatty foods and developing breast cancer. Avoiding fatty foods, however, will lower your cholesterol levels, make room in your diet for healthier alternatives, and help you control your weight. Being overweight does increase your risk of developing breast cancer. If you are overweight already, cutting back on fatty foods is a good idea.