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13 Myths Regarding Breast Cancer

Updated on February 4, 2015

The second most common type of cancer among women worldwide, cases of breast cancer have been increasing at an alarming rate in recent years (both the number of women diagnosed and the deaths resulting from the disease). According to World Health Organization (WHO), over 508 000 women died in 2011 as a result of breast cancer.

This has fueled fear in the hearts of women as is the case with Ebola Virus Disease which has claimed more than 8,000 lives in three West African countries in 2014. As a result of the number of women diagnosed and the resultant deaths every year, myths have cropped in resulting to confusion and believing what to be myths as facts.

This article aims to dispel the myths associated with breast cancer by setting the record straight.

13) Men Cannot Get Breast Cancer

Men do and can get breast cancer. Despite the fact it’s 100 times more common in women than men, it doesn’t entirely mean it’s limited to women.

The reason why it’s common in women is because they have more breast cells than men. Also, the level of female hormones in men’s breasts is less than those in women. The female hormones are responsible for the growth of women’s breasts, therefore they can aid in the growth of breast cancer cells.

A sure way for a man to know whether he has breast cancer is by performing a routine self-examination. If he notices a hard lump which has formed beneath the nipple and areola he should be concerned. Many men ignore a hard lump as an indicator of breast cancer.

12) Younger Women Cannot Get Breast Cancer

This is far from true. In spite of the fact older women are at a high risk of getting breast cancer than young women, cases have been reported of women as young as 20 getting the disease.

Young women mistake a lump as a harmless growth. It is one of the indications of development of breast cancer.

Unlike older women (about 40 yrs and above), diagnosing breast cancer in younger women is difficult because they have denser breasts. This is why it’s very important for women to always perform self-examination and if they notice any changes in their breasts to seek medical attention for further tests.


11) Having A Lump Is A Sign You Have Breast Cancer

In spite of the fact a lump is a sign a person has breast cancer, it’s not always the case. The majority of lumps detected are benign, meaning they’re not cancerous.

Nevertheless, if the lump becomes persistent, it’s best to go for clinical breast exam. This way the health care professional will be able to tell you if the lump is of concern.

10) It Is Contagious

It’s not a contagious disease. A contagious disease is an infectious disease spread from one person to another through air, water and food. A good example is Tuberculosis.

Generally, cancer develops when the cells of a particular organ don’t grow as they’re supposed to. Normally, the cells grow and divide to form new cells as needed by the body. When this controlled process is interfered with, it results to development of abnormal cells. These abnormal cells divide uncontrollably leading to formation of lumps or tumors.

The tumors can either be benign or malignant. Malignant tumors are cancerous as they spread to other tissues of the breast to the extent they can spread to the rest of the body through lymphatic system and blood.

As is the case, it’s not possible for breast cancer to spread from one person to another.

Breast Cancer Month
Breast Cancer Month | Source

9) Wearing A Bra Can Cause Breast Cancer

A book published in 1995 by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer titled ‘Dressed to Kill’ claimed that wearing of bra does increase the risk of getting cancer. As a result of this claim it led to women believing it was the truth.

The authors claimed women wearing underwire bras for more than 12 hours were at a higher risk of developing the disease than those who do not. They stated bras block the lymphatic system thereby causing toxins to upsurge in the breasts resulting to growth of breast cancer.

There is no medical or scientific evidence to show wearing of bra does cause breast cancer.

8) A Family History of Breast Cancer

It’s true that if you have a family history of breast cancer you’re more likely to get it. Nonetheless, this is not always the case.

Risk factors do not entirely mean you’ll get the disease. There are reports of women who had one or several risk factors but never got the disease. On the other hand, there are women who got breast cancer despite the fact they didn’t have any of the risk factors that increases the chance of getting the disease.

It’s very hard to pinpoint a particular risk factor contributed to the development of breast cancer.

7) Deodorants and Antiperspirants

There is no conclusive proof to show the above two cause breast cancer.

6) Stress

While it is true stress can lead a person to develop various health problems such as ulcers and backache, no studies have so far shown any link between stress and breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Myths Debunked

5) Abortion

In the case of abortion or pregnancy termination, no link has been found between it and breast cancer. It doesn’t increase the chance of developing breast cancer.

4) Pesticides

Pesticides don’t increase the risk of developing breast cancer. One pesticide, DDT was found to increase the risk of breast cancer if a person was exposed to it early on in life. This was according to an American report (2008) which showed when a person is exposed to this pesticide there is a high chance of that person getting the disease. The pesticide is no longer used in America as it was in the 1950s to 70s.

Breast Cancer Awareness 2
Breast Cancer Awareness 2 | Source

3) Cause of Breast Cancer Is Known

Scientists don’t know what causes breast cancer. It is not known how the risk factors which increase the possibility of developing breast cancer can lead to the breast cells becoming malignant.

On top of that, despite the fact hormones do play a role in the formation of cancerous cells in the breasts, scientists don’t fully know how this occurs.

2) It Is Preventable

As long as there is no adequate information on what causes breast cancer in women, it’s hard for someone prevent him/herself fully from getting the disease. A person can deal with the risk factors of breast cancer such as observing a healthy lifestyle, but in itself it’s no guarantee you won’t get it.

Until it’s fully known what causes breast cancer in women, then will preventable measures be set up to avoid getting the disease. What scientists know is the factors that lead to the development of breast cancer such as drinking alcohol and obesity.

1) Mammograms Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer

Mammograms do not help in either preventing or reducing the risk of breast cancer. In themselves they help in detecting the breast cancer, the earlier the better. When breast cancer is detected early then early treatment will be administered. This will ensure that the localized cancers are removed without the need of removing the whole of the breast.

According to, mammograms reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer by 25-30%.


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