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Effective Monday, July 19, 2021, the following NOH/OMG office locations will no longer provide on-site blood draws: Westlake, Lorain, Olmsted Falls and Dewhurst. Click here for the nearest lab service location. 

Debunking The Top 5 Breast Cancer Myths

October 13, 2020

There are many common breast cancer myths. And whether you’re curious about the disease or have been diagnosed with breast cancer, trying to decipher all of the information that’s out there can be overwhelming. But oftentimes, there’s not enough evidence to support some of the claims being made.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among U.S. women and is the second leading cause of death among women after lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2019, nearly 270,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed among women. In addition, more than 48,000 cases of Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) are expected to be diagnosed among women this year.

To provide some peace of mind, we’re debunking the top five breast cancer myths.

Myth No. 1: Only women with a family history are at risk for breast cancer.

While having a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter, father, brother) with the disease can increase the risk, about 8 in 10 women who develop breast cancer have no family history.

The American Cancer Society says lifestyle risk factors for breast cancer include:

  •  Excessive alcohol consumption
  •  Being overweight or obese after menopause
  •  Getting less than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week
  •  Not having children or having a first child after age 30

You can help reduce your risk of cancer by making healthy choices like eating right, staying active, and not smoking. It’s also important to follow the recommended screening guidelines, which can help detect certain cancers early.

Myth No. 2: Wearing an underwire bra raises your risk for breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a group of diseases in which cells in breast tissue change and divide uncontrolled, typically resulting in a lump or mass. Most breast cancers begin in the lobules (milk glands) or in the ducts that connect the lobules to the nipple.

This myth originated with the idea that the underwires in bras do not allow lymph fluid or toxins to properly drain from the breasts. The accumulation of fluids or toxins is what results in the formation of cancer.

A study from the American Association for Cancer Research found no association between wearing an underwire bra and developing breast cancer.

Myth No. 3: Only women can get breast cancer.

Men also have breast tissue, and as a result, can develop breast cancer. However, the disease is less common in men because men’s breast duct cells are less developed than women’s and because they have lower levels of female hormones that can affect breast cell growth.

In 2019, the American Cancer Society estimated that about 2,700 cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men and 440 men will die from the disease.    

Myth No. 4: Finding a lump always indicates cancer.

While a breast lump is the most familiar sign of breast cancer, the disease can show itself in other ways. Other possible signs of breast cancer include:

  •  Swelling in a part or all of the breast
  •  Skin irritation or dimpling
  •  Nipple retraction
  •  Skin redness, scaling or thickening on the breast or nipple
  •  Any nipple discharge that’s not breast milk

Alternatively, a lump doesn’t always indicate cancer. In fact, most breast conditions aren’t cancerous, according to the Cancer Society.

Myth No. 5: There’s nothing you can do to prevent breast cancer.

While there is no definitive way to prevent breast cancer, lifestyle adjustments can help reduce your risk.

These include:

 The American Cancer Society provides a number of cancer prevention tools you can use to decrease your risk on its website. These tools aren’t just for someone who’s at risk or for women with breast cancer, these tools can help decrease the risk of many types of cancer.

The fact is, many of the controllable risk factors for breast cancer may also increase your chances of developing other health problems like heart disease or diabetes.

Your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and bodyweight numbers all can contribute to your risk of developing a serious illness. But our guide “Know Your Numbers” can help you to keep track and decrease your risk. It provides you with simple strategies that will help you live a healthier life. Download it today.

Know Your Numbers