Breast cancer is an important health issue, affecting one in eight women during their lives. Unfortunately, the most significant risk factors for breast cancer are ones you cannot change - being a woman and growing older. Despite the fact that every year approximately 200,000 women will find out they have breast cancer, there are still a lot of misunderstandings about the disease, its diagnosis and prevention. Here we separate fact from fiction.
Antiperspirants contribute to breast cancer.
FICTION: There are two myths associated with this often-found internet rumor. First, that deodorants contain toxins that can build up in the lymph glands of the armpit which then can cause cancer in the breast tissue. And second, that deodorants inhibit your body from perspiring the toxins that cause cancer. There is no scientific proof to support either of these claims.
Mammograms are your most reliable way to detect early breast cancer.
FACT: By the time a tumor can be felt via self examination, it is usually bigger than the average size that can detected by mammography. When looking for a good mammography center, look for a high quality facility and a radiologist who reads about 300 mammograms a month. Keep in mind, however, that mammography can sometimes miss detection, so self examinations and regular exams by your doctor are also crucial to the screening process.
If there's no history of breast cancer in your family, you don't have to worry.
FICTION: Every woman is at risk for breast cancer. About 80 percent of women who get breast cancer have no known family history of the disease.
Breast cancer can be passed through your father.
FACT: Breast cancer genes can be inherited from your dad's side of the family. So let your health care practitioner know about cases on both sides of the family, in both men (although rare) and women.
Your risk for breast cancer increases with age.
FACT: A woman's chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer is about 1 in 200 when she's in her 30s and rises to 1 in 8 by the time she's 85.
Breast cancer always starts with a lump.
FICTION: While a lump may indicate breast cancer (or one of many benign breast conditions) there are other signs too. These include swelling, skin irritation or dimpling, breast or nipple pain, nipple retraction (turning inward), redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin, and discharge.
Caffeine contributes to breast cancer.
FICTION: No connection has been found between drinking caffeine and getting breast cancer. In fact, some research suggests the opposite could be true.
There are measures you can take to reduce your risk.
FACT: There are several things you can do to lower your risk, including losing weight, getting regular exercise, lowering alcohol consumption, examining your breasts regularly, quitting smoking, and getting regular mammograms.
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For additional information on breast cancer, consult the following sites.