October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Time to break out those pink socks you’ve been saving and celebrate, recognize and support the people in your life who have battled breast cancer. Many facts and articles about breast cancer will be shared this month, but not everything you read and hear is true. Here are a few common misconceptions about breast cancer, along with the truth to dispel each myth.
Fake: Drinking milk causes breast cancer.
Fact: Over many decades, studies have shown that dairy consumption does NOT increase your risk for breast cancer. For more information about these studies visit:
1. American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/how-your-diet-may-affect-your-risk-of-breast-cancer.html.
2. International Journal of Epidemiology: https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/31/1/78/655928/Meat-and-dairy-food-consumption-and-breast-cancer.
3. Journal of American College of Nutrition: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2005.10719504
Fake: Finding a lump in your chest means you have breast cancer.
Fact: Most lumps turn out to be benign. Only a small percentage are found to be cancerous. However, changes in breast tissue or a persistent lump in your breast should be disclosed to your doctor. Your physician should perform a breast exam. He or she may order imaging studies to further confirm whether or not the issue is dangerous.
Fake: Men do not get breast cancer.
Fact: Each year, approximately 2,190 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and approximately 410 will die. The percentage is small, but men should still perform breast self-exams and report any changes to their physicians. Breast cancer in men usually displays itself as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola. Breast cancer among men carries a higher mortality rate because of the lack of awareness.
Fake: A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread.
Fact: Mammograms are currently the best way to detect breast cancer in its early stages. Breast compression cannot cause cancer to spread. According to the National Cancer Institute, “The benefits of mammography, however, nearly always outweigh the potential harm from the radiation exposure. Mammograms require very small doses of radiation. The risk of harm from this radiation exposure is extremely low.”
Women should begin receiving annual mammograms at age 40. Discuss your family history with your physician who will help you decide when you should begin mammographic screening.
Don’t believe everything you hear during Breast Cancer Awareness Month this year. Always speak with your doctor regarding any health concerns or questions you may have.