12 Common Breast Cancer Myths Dispelled

So,you’re on top of your breast health. Great! You understand your risk factors.You do your monthly self-exams and get your yearly mammogram. And you know the factsabout breast cancer. Or do you?

Jeannette Kaplun, TV host, journalist and CEO of Hispana Global

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and thesecond-most deadly. “Breast cancer will affect one out of every eight U.S.women in their lifetime,” noted Jeannette Kaplun, a TV host and journalist whois also CEO of Hispana Global. “And even though we’ve made huge advances intreatment, more than 42,000 people will die in the U.S. from the disease thisyear alone.”

Ms. Kaplun wants to help raise awareness about breast cancer, which led to her hosting a recent Baptist Health Resource Live program on the subject. “We want to dispel the myths,” she said, “because knowledge is power.”

Ms. Kaplun’s guest on the program was Jane Méndez, M.D., chief of breast surgery at Miami CancerInstitute. A board certified surgical oncologist who specializes in thetreatment of breast cancer, Dr. Mendez shared her thoughts about breast healthand dispelled 12 common breast cancer myths.

12Common Myths About Breast Cancer

MYTH #1: If you don’thave a family history of breast cancer, you don’t have to worry about gettingbreast cancer. 

Jane Mendez, M.D., chief of breast surgery at Miami Cancer Institute

FACT: Many women think that if they don’t have a family history ofbreast cancer, they don’t have to worry about getting it. However, this couldn’tbe further from the truth since 85 percent of breast cancers occursporadically. The two main risk factors for breast cancer are being awoman and getting older. For example, when you’re in your 50s, you have a onein 50 chance of getting breast cancer. When you’re in your 70s, it’s one in 13.And, when you’re in your 80s, it’s one in 10.  

MYTH #2: Caffeineincreases risk of breast cancer. 

FACT: There is nocausal connection between caffeinated products and breast cancer; however,there is a connection between caffeinated products and breast pain, as well asfibrocystic breast changes. “So enjoy your cup of coffee.”

MYTH #3: Use ofdeodorant is associated with risk of breast cancer, especially if they containaluminum.

FACT: Although thisis a common myth, there is no risk associated with use of deodorant orantiperspirant.  

MYTH #4: Wearing anunderwire bra is associated with risk of breast cancer. 

FACT: There is noevidence to support that bras cause breast cancer. However, underwire bras areassociated with breast pain or breast tenderness.

MYTH #5: Breast canceralways comes in the form of a mass. 

FACT: Not allbreast cancers present as a mass. By the same token, not all breast masses arecancerous. Breast cancer can present in different ways, such as changes inthe skin, nipple discharge, assymetry or differences in the size of one breastcompared to the other and/or as a mass in the area under the arm (theaxilla). 

MYTH #6: Breast canceris associated with breast pain. 

FACT: Breast pain isusually not one of the first symptoms of breast cancer nor is it usuallyassociated with breast cancer. That said, if breast cancer causes pain, it’susually indicative of an advanced stage of breast cancer.  

MYTH #7: The smallerthe breast size, the less risk of breast cancer. 

FACT: There’s nocorrelation between breast size and the likelihood of developing breast cancer. 

MYTH #8: Use of a cellphone increases the risk of breast cancer. 

FACT: Increased useof cell phones has gained popularity, but there’s no evidence to supportthis.  

MYTH #9: Exposure ofradiation during mammograms increases risk of breast cancer. 

FACT: The dose of radiation exposure during mammograms is very small.The benefit of detecting breast cancer through a mammogram and not delaying adiagnosis greatly outweighs any risks.  

MYTH #10:  Alcohol consumption increases the risk of breastcancer. 

FACT: There’s no direct causal relationship between alcohol and breast cancer. However, as part of a healthy lifestyle, we advise women against excessive use of alcohol. Everything should be in moderation. There is a causal relationship between alcohol and other cancers, such as liver cancer, but not with breast cancer. But if you’re going to drink alcohol, we think red wine might be better because it contains phenolic acids which may protect against breast cancer.

MYTH #11: Having breast implants increases risk of breastcancer. 

FACT: Texturized implants areassociated with a rare form of breast associated lymphoma. Women with implantsneed to know that during their mammogram, the technician needs to modifyhis/her technique to displace the implant so he/she can see the breast tissueproperly and determine whether there’s an abnormality. That said, the implantsthemselves do not increase the likelihood of breast cancer. 

MYTH #12: Women with lumpy breasts(fibrocystic changes) have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. 

FACT: Fibrocysticbreast changes do not increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Theyounger you are, the denser your breast tissue. Women with dense breasts needto complement their mammogram with an ultrasound since breast densitylowers the sensitivity of the mammogram.

Wrappingup the program, Dr. Mendez said it’s important that women know their body andtheir family history. “Empower yourself with education soyou really know the facts,” she said. “And when you see something, take actionand don’t delay it because early detection is key, as you know.”

Watch the complete Resource Live program: “Dispelling 12 Myths of Breast Cancer.”

During the month of October, Baptist Health South Florida is offering discounted mammograms for patients without insurance. For more information, visit baptisthealth.net/breasthealth or call Miami Cancer Institute at 786-573-6000.

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