Island Origins Magazine Breast Cancer Myths

In this age of an abundance of information, the ability to tell fact from fiction can result in vast differences in quality of life. Caribbean women, who succumb to breast cancer more than any other cancer illness, so it’s important we know the truth from trusted sources, such as The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Breastcancer.org and Getdoc.com. We identified ten of the most popular breast cancer myths floating around on Facebook, WhatsApp and elsewhere, and went to work determining fact from fiction. 

Myth 1: Only women can get breast cancer

Quiet as kept, thousands of men are diagnosed annually with breast cancer, which usually presents itself as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola. Breast cancer amongst men is not as widely publicized as it is with women and men are less likely to equate abnormalities in their chest area with the possibility of cancer. As a result, men have higher mortality than women when it comes to breast cancer due to delayed action in seeking out treatment.

Myth 2: You only get breast cancer if you have a family history of it

Statistically, only about 5-10% of diagnosed cases of breast cancer occur in people with a family history of this disease. The majority of diagnosed people have no known family history. 

Breast Cancer Myths vs. Reality

Myth 3: Sleeping with a bra on can cause breast cancer

Here’s the theory: wearing an underwire-style bra restricts the flow of lymph fluid out of the breast, resulting in a build-up of toxic substances in the tissue. It is easy to see why this is a popular belief. The compression and discomfort felt from wearing a badly fitting or tight underwire bra breasts make for a good urban legend. To date, however, evidence supporting that claim has not surfaced.


Myth 4: Breast cancer only affects older women

Yes, growing older does increase the risk factors for developing breast cancer but unfortunately, young women have been diagnosed as well. All women should take care of their breasts no matter their age. A simple monthly self-examination is a great way to start.

Myth 5: Cell phones give you breast cancer

The general safety of cell phones is still being studied and there have been a handful of reported cases of young women who habitually carried their phones in their bras developing breast cancer. Is there a correlation between the two? As yet, no evidence supports a connection. What is known is that cellphones do emit low-energy radiation. When in doubt err on the side of caution. Instead, place your cellphone in a purse or a bag just in case. 

Breast Cancer Myths vs. Reality

Myth 6: You don’t need to get a mammogram every year

A mammogram is an early detection tool. While it is not always the best at detecting the early stages of breast cancer, it doesn’t hurt to stay vigilant with yearly exams and monthly breast self-exams. 

Myth 7: Caffeine causes breast cancer

No need to ditch your daily cup of Joe for breast health. Research shows the opposite in fact. Taken in moderation, caffeine can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.

Myth 8: Antiperspirant causes breast cancer

This is a longstanding and classic myth, one that involves toxins like aluminum in antiperspirants being absorbed into the lymph nodes as a precursor to developing breast cancer. While evidence that confirms this has not emerged, recently, many popular brands of deodorants and antiperspirants have proactively removed aluminum from their formulas. 

Breast Cancer Myths vs. Reality

Myth 9: A lump on your breast always means cancer

The presence of a lump does not always mean cancer, just as the absence of a lump is not an indicator that one is cancer-free. Lumps may indicate benign cysts or abscesses. However, since you can’t tell from the surface, if you feel a lump, you should definitely reach out to your doctor.

Myth 10: Stress can cause breast cancer

Don’t stress. Studies have not found conclusive evidence that stress increases your risk of breast cancer. 


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