5 Things About Breast Cancer You Should Know

By Nisa Z.
October 23, 2020

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I bet your social media feed is filled with pink ribbons and infographics on Breast Cancer.

Thanks to the internet, searching for relevant information about breast cancer has become quicker and more convenient. Unfortunately, along with these facts are some misconceptions that are still yet to be addressed.

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women. When it comes to breast cancer, knowledge is power. Let's sift through the facts and myths.

1. Wearing an underwire bra cause breast cancer.

Verdict: MYTH

The urban myth about underwire bras, or even wearing bras at all, causing cancer came about in the early 90s. It was believed that bras inhibited lymphatic drainage. Toxins would then accumulate in the body which eventually led to cancer. 

As stated by the American Cancer Society, “we do not know of any epidemiologic studies published in scientific journals that suggest bras directly contribute to breast cancer.” No bra burning activity required.

2. You can develop breast cancer even if it doesn't run in your family.

Verdict: FACT

You are still able to develop breast cancer even if you don't have a family history of breast cancer. In fact, about two-thirds of people who were diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

If you do have a family history of breast cancer, you're at risk of inheriting the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation from a parent. This increases your risk of developing breast cancer to about 70%.

3.  A monthly self-breast check is not the most effective way to detect breast cancer.

Verdict: FACT

A monthly self-breast check, if done properly, is useful to help you get familiar with your breasts' shape, color, and size. But there is little evidence to support routine monthly self-breast checks as being the most effective way to detect breast cancer for average-risk women.

Complement your self-checks with clinical breast exam done by a doctor or nurse when you're having a pap smear. And if you're over 40, go for a mammogram. Despite this, you know your breast best. So if something doesn't look or feel right, consult your doctor.

4. Aluminum salts in antiperspirants cause breast cancer.

Verdict: MYTH

Deodorants help to tackle odor issues, but won't stop you from sweating. Antiperspirants that contain aluminum prevents sweating and can be deodorizing, so that you're dry and not smelly.

Aluminum salts in antiperspirants has received a ton of bad press lately for being cancer-causing. Here's the deal. There is no clear scientific evidence to show a causal link between the two.

We're not here for fear-mongering. Even though we've created a natural deodorant, we'll lean on the science for this one. Studies show frequent use of antiperspirants can cause aluminum to accumulate in the breast tissue. But there's no proof it causes breast cancer. We're also exposed to aluminium from food, packaging, pans, water, air and medicines.

There are still numerous benefits of switching to an aluminum-free deodorant. You can choose to avoid aluminum if it's a known skin irritant for you, you don't sweat excessively, you've been diagnosed with poor kidney function or at a doctor's advice.  

5.  Lumps on breasts always indicate cancer.

Verdict: MYTH

No need to panic if you feel a lump in your breast. Most breast lumps are not cancerous. Your breast tissue changes throughout your entire life. It is sensitive to hormonal changes during your menstrual cycle.

Do consult your doctor if you notice apparent changes like a hard lump or knot near your underarm, thickening or prominent fullness that's different from the surrounding tissue, skin changes like redness or rashes and clear or bloody discharge from the nipple.

Breast cancer is scary. But arming yourself with facts and knowledge will help you navigate it with some clarity. Want to test your knowledge? Take our quiz on The Playground now to find out.