About Breast Cancer - Overview

Myths

Myth: Drinking milk (or dairy) causes breast cancer

Here’s The Truth

Several myths persist about the correlation between dairy intake and the increased risk of breast cancer.  Over many decades, studies have shown that dairy consumption does not increase the risk of breast cancer.  For more information about these studies, please visit:

Myth: Finding a lump in your breast means you have breast cancer

Here’s The Truth

Only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer.  But if you discover a persistent lump in your breast or notice any changes in breast tissue, it should never be ignored. It is very important that you see a physician for a clinical breast exam. He or she may possibly order breast imaging studies to determine if this lump is of concern or not.

Myth: Men do not get breast cancer; it affects women only

Here’s The Truth

Quite the contrary, each year it is estimated that approximately 2,190 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 410 will die. While this percentage is still small, men should also check themselves periodically by doing a breast self-exam while in the shower and reporting any changes to their physicians.

Myth: A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread

Here’s The Truth

A mammogram, or x-ray of the breast, currently remains the gold standard for the early detection of breast cancer. Breast compression while getting a mammogram 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.”

Myth: If you have a family history of breast cancer, you are likely to develop breast cancer, too

Here’s The Truth

While women who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, most women who have breast cancer have no family history. Statistically only about 10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of this disease.

Myth: Breast cancer is contagious

Here’s The Truth

You cannot catch breast cancer or transfer it to someone else’s body. Breast cancer is the result of uncontrolled cell growth of mutated cells that begin to spread into other tissues within the breast. However, you can reduce your risk by practicing a healthy lifestyle, being aware of the risk factors, and following an early detection plan so that you will be diagnosed early if breast cancer were to occur.

Myth: If the gene mutation BRCA1 or BRCA2 is detected in your DNA, you will definitely develop breast cancer

Here’s The Truth

According to the National Cancer Institute, regarding families who are known to carry BRCA1 or BRCA2, “not every woman in such families carries a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, and not every cancer in such families is linked to a harmful mutation in one of these genes. Furthermore, not every woman who has a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation will develop breast and/or ovarian cancer.

Myth: Antiperspirants and deodorants cause breast cancer

Here’s The Truth

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) are not aware of any conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer.