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Home News and Update Year 2011 Breast Cancer Myths and Realities

Breast Cancer Myths and Realities

Times of India
04 October 2011
By Monami K. Thakur

Breast cancer myths and realities (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images) Breast cancer myths and realities (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)
Misinformation is more dangerous than information that has not been conveyed. And the same applies to breast cancer awareness. One of the most common cancers in India, breast cancer accounts for 28 to 35 percent of all cancers in women in major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai.

There is an urgent need to be more aware of breast cancer symptoms and treatment, and since October is breast cancer awareness month, this is the right time to dispel the many myths and half-truths about this condition and replace them with actual facts...

Only women get breast cancer: Contrary to what most people believe, men are as prone to developing breast cancer as women. Although, the rate of incidence of breast cancer in women is much higher than males, the latter can develop the condition as well. Hence, it is equally important for men to undergo regular breast self-check techniques for prevention and early diagnosis.

Breast feeding causes breast cancer: This is one myth that has been circulating for quite some time. But, trust us; it is only a myth and nothing else. In fact, recent studies have suggested just the opposite. A number of researches have indicated that breast feeding may slightly lower a woman's risk factor for developing the condition. Breast feeding causes the reducing of women's menstruating time leading to a decreased production of estrogen. Reduced estrogen levels, on the other hand, are linked with decreased incidence of breast cancer.

Underwire bras causes breast cancer: Is it really true? Do underwire bras really cause breast cancer in women? Apparently, this notion is yet another half-truth that has made the rounds for some decades. This rumor initially started in 1995 when some medical anthropologists claimed that tight fitting bras inhibit lymphatic drainage and trap the toxins inside the breast tissues causing cancer. However, critics have widely rebuked these claims stating that there is lack of sufficient evidence to support this theory.

All breast lumps are cancerous: Wrong again. Not all breast lumps are malignant or cancerous. As per records, around 80 percent of all breast lumps are non-cancerous and are mere benign cysts. However, this does not imply that a person stop reporting any breast changes at all. In order to determine whether a lump is cancerous or not, further diagnostic measures like mammogram, ultrasound or biopsy is required.

Birth control pills can lead to breast cancer: False. Although, it is true that birth control pills do contain a small amount of estrogen, there is no substantial proof to validate this statement.

Family history is a must: Although, women with a family history of breast cancer are at a higher risk for developing this condition, not all women with breast cancer have a previous family history. In fact, more than 90 percent of the cases are devoid of any family history of cancer. However, if you do have a grandmother, mother or sister with the condition, you need to take extra care and have a mammogram done starting at the age of 35.

Mammograms help prevent breast cancer: This is one myth that needs to be clarified at the earliest. Mammograms are not treatment modes but only a tool for the early detection of the condition. A useful screening module, mammograms should be done by every woman by their health-care provider each year.

Breast cancer is contagious: Remember that breast cancer is not contagious unlike what most people believe it to be. This misconception is mainly due to the fact that certain cases of breast cancer are associated with a family history. This led people to believe that the cancer has been transmitted from person to person like an infectious disease.

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