EXCLUSIVE: Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2021: 6 Myths one should not fall for
To mark the occasion of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, expert busts a few myths about the dangerous disease, and advises you not to fall for them.
If we happen to ask you what is even more dangerous than cancer, you probably would say COVID-19, given the current situation. However, we would like to agree to disagree on this, since nothing can be more cancerous than myths. Why, you ask? It happens to deceive you in such a way that you take to all kinds of solutions and preventions, but the correct or the required ones.
And the danger factor goes a notch higher, if these myths are surrounding something as sensitive and deadly as cancer.
Since its Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Sumana Arora, Vice President, Clinical Services, DayToDay Health India, takes the opportunity to bust a few myths.
Myth 1: Breast cancer runs in families
Fact: Many consider breast cancer to be genetic i.e. run in families, however, most people diagnosed with the disease have no family history of breast cancer. “About 13 percent of women in the general population will develop breast cancer sometime during their lives. Of all the cases, only about 5 – 10 percent of cases are believed to be hereditary. Most of the people affected with breast cancer have no family history which suggests that other factors such as environment and lifestyle may have a bigger role to play,” says Arora.
However, people with a strong family history of breast cancer on either side of the family i.e., either from maternal or paternal side, are recommended to consider it as an important risk factor that should be taken seriously.
Myth 2: You can keep breast cancer at bay with a healthy lifestyle and controlled alcohol intake
Fact: A healthy lifestyle paired with regular exercise can help lower the risk of breast cancer, but these factors do not guarantee that the disease will be at bay. There are numerous examples of people doing just the right thing and still being diagnosed with breast cancer. “It is imperative to ensure regular screenings, perform breast self-exams, and pay attention to any unusual changes in your breasts,” advises Arora.
While it is worth managing the risk factors that are under your control, such as what you eat and drink and how active you are physically, however, heavy focus on lifestyle and environmental factors can be misleading since most breast cancers are caused by factors outside of our control.
Myth 3: Breast cancer is a disease of older women
Fact: The majority of breast cancers have been detected in women over the age of 50, however, it can affect women of any age. Moreover, breast cancer is increasingly being diagnosed at a much earlier age in India - between the ages of 40 and 60 years. It is true that being female and growing older are the key factors for developing breast cancer. “A 2017 study showed that about 4 percent of invasive breast cancers were diagnosed in women under the age of 40, which means that one in every 25 invasive breast cancer cases occurred in women under 40,” Arora tells you.
Women of all ages need to take care of their breast health, perform self-exams and consult their healthcare professional in case of any unusual changes and rule out breast cancer if there is any concerning symptom.
Myth 4: Breastfeeding protects from breast cancer
Fact: While breastfeeding does reduce the risk of the disease, it does not completely prevent it. Therefore, one must not neglect self-care during lactation and take care of your breast health.
Myth 5: Birth control pills cause breast cancer
Fact: Modern-day birth control pills are not associated with an increased risk of getting breast cancer as they contain a low dose of estrogen and progesterone.
Myth 6: Breast cancer is caused by wearing a bra, especially an underwire bra
Fact: Studies have found no link between wearing any type of bra and breast cancer. There is no evidence to support the myth of breast cancer being associated with any specific bra.