It’s not so difficult to understand why myths and half-truths gain so much popularity in our world. They provide answers to concepts that seem unanswerable and for many, accepting and encouraging belief in such possibilities is much easier than admitting to not knowing. But all these would have passed decades ago when we knew next to nothing about breast cancer.
It’s 2021, and science has come too far for you to stay ignorant. With this in mind, read on as we debunk a few misconceptions about breast cancer.
Myth One: Wearing a Bra Can Cause Breast Cancer
It seems only fitting that we begin with this. The persistent rumor that underwire bras or any bra are a risk factor for breast cancer was fueled by a 1995 book by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismijer. The women insist that bras restrict the lymph system, resulting in a build-up of toxins in the breast, leading to the development of cancer. However, the American Cancer Society says otherwise. The absence of sufficient research to back these claims further exposes their unreliability. In a 2014 study of the lifetime bra-wearing patterns of postmenopausal women, researchers found no direct link between increased cancer risk ad the number of hours spent wearing a bra.
Myth Two: The Absence Of a Family History Of Breast Cancer Ultimately Reduces The Risk
Did you know that only about 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases are believed to be hereditary? Although women with close blood relatives with breast cancer have a higher risk, most women who get breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease. Instead, other risk factors are often at play. Researchers are working to find better ways to prevent, detect, and treat breast cancer and improve the quality of life of patients and survivors. But the truth remains that they’re still unable to pinpoint the exact cause of breast cancer. Of course, your inherent femininity is the most significant risk factor, but a combination of lifestyle and environmental factors is also a worthy contender for increasing breast cancer cases.
Myth Three: Breast Cancer Always Causes a Lump
Self-examination is all well and good. But what isn’t right is using it as a substitute for regular screening. For example, most people believed that breast cancer always causes a lump, and they have varying opinions on what kind of lumps are worrisome. Apparently, painful lumps and smooth movable lumps are the ‘good’ kind. However, you need to understand is that breast cancer doesn’t always cause a lump, and when you do find one, cancer may have already spread past the breast and into the lymph nodes.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., and its risk factors are often misunderstood. If you do prefer to go without a bra, don’t hold back. But breast cancer disease is no joke, and we should all take it seriously. Replacing our knowledge of these age-old myths with facts is a good enough place to start.
Grismaijer, S., & Singer, S.R. (1995), Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras.Garden City Park, New York: Avery Publishing Group.
Lu Chen, Kathleen E. Malone, and Christopher I. Li. Bra Wearing Not Associated with Breast Cancer Risk: A Population-Based Case-Control Study. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, September 2014 DOI: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-14-0414
American Cancer Society. Breast cancer risk factors you cannot change. Revised September 2019. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/risk-and-prevention/breast-cancer-risk-factors-you-cannot-change.html.