Monday, October 22, 2007

Breast cancer myths debunked

WITH so many rumors and controversy surrounding the causes of breast cancer these days, it is hard to determine what to believe. One thing is certain, being able to separate fact from fiction could play a major role in saving your life.
Here are some common myths surrounding breast cancer that have been circulating through emails, some sounding unbelievably realistic and around which many have sealed their fates. Dr Venslow Greaves, radiation oncologist at the Radiation Oncology Centre weighs in on what's true and what's fabricated.
1. The email: A girl whose mother recently got diagnosed with breast cancer said her doctor told her that women should not drink bottled water that has been left in a car. She said the doctor said the heat and the plastic of the bottle have certain chemicals that can lead to breast cancer. The heat causes toxins from the plastic to leak into the water and they have found these toxins in breast tissue. The truth: No, not true. No study has shown that plastic bottles or drinking from a plastic bottle causes cancer of the breast.
2. The email: Antiperspirants are a leading cause of breast cancer. Antiperspirants prevent you from sweating out dangerous toxins and these become trapped in the body causing breast cancer.The truth: Not so. This is a theory that has not been subjected to randomised testing. It is a theory that has run its time.
3. The rumour: Wearing a bra to bed, or wearing bras with wires can cause breast cancer. The claim is that underwire bras can constrict the body's lymph node system, causing breast cancer.The truth: Not true. This is another theory put forward because people don't know the exact cause of breast cancer. It cannot really be proven. This has not been statistically proven.
4. The rumour: If someone in your family had breast cancer you will automatically have it too.The truth: Not necessarily. You will be more predisposed to developing the disease than people without the hereditary trait, especially if a close family member had it, say a mother, father, sister or brother. Certain genes are said to be linked to breast cancer. But it doesn't mean you MUST get it.
5. The rumour: If there is no history of breast cancer in the family you are not at risk of getting the disease.The truth: That is not true. Most breast cancers arrive in women without family members having the disease.
6. The myth: Breast cancer only occurs after menopause.The truth: Not true. As long as you reach menstrual age then you can develop breast cancer. I have seen a patient who was 16. Studies have shown that women who start the menstrual cycle at an early age and menopause at a late age are at a higher risk.
7. The myth: Mammograms prevent breast cancerThe truth: Mammograms do not prevent breast cancer, but diagnose it very early.
8. The rumour: Eating high-fat foods and dairy products boosts your risk of breast cancer.The truth: Yes. Studies have shown that your diet is very important. This was shown in respect to both breast and prostate cancer.
9. The story: If you have small breasts, you're much less likely to get breast cancerThe truth: Myth
10. The story: Getting a hard blow eg a kick or punch in the breast can cause breast cancer.The truth: Myth

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