Know the Facts
- Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer affecting women, with nearly 300,000 women expected to be diagnosed this year
- There have been myths that products such as soy, deodorant, bras, and more can cause breast cancer
- Experts debunk these rumors for SurvivorNet, and explain why they are not a cause for concern
Breast cancer is one of the most common form of cancers among women, with nearly 300,000 women expected to be diagnosed this year. It’s important to do everything you can to be proactive in preventing the disease (or the progression of the disease). Remember to get your routine screenings so that if you’re diagnosed, it’ll hopefully be caught at an early stage. However, it’s equally important to know that some things just do not cause cancer, and despite speculations, there’s no medical evidence to link them.
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Believe it or not, but there’s been claims that women who get abortions will be diagnosed with breast cancer. However, that is simply not true. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), women who have a full-term pregnancy before the age of 20 have a lower risk of developing breast cancer, and a woman’s risk goes up if she has a full-term pregnancy after the age of 35.
So, there is an apparent link between breast cancer and pregnancy, but researchers have also been examining whether there is a link between abortion and breast cancer for years. So far, there has been no evidence to support that induced and spontaneous abortion increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer, or causes it. These studies have been deemed “well established” by the ACS, which is the highest level of credibility.
Maintaining a health diet is important in lower your cancer risk, and it’s worth nothing that consuming large amounts of sugar isn’t good for anyone, seeing as it can cause excess weight and potentially lead to cancer cells growing within your body. However, consuming sugar itself is not the ultimate cause of a diagnosis, and practicing moderation doesn’t necessarily increase your risk.
"Sugar itself does not cause cancer," says Maruschak. "If you're already diagnosed with cancer, you do want to make sure you're not eating an excessive amount of sugar in your diet. What could potentially help your cancer grow faster are insulin spikes in your blood. We have insulin spikes in our blood when we eat any sort of carbohydrate-containing food, but what's going to cause more insulin to be secreted are the simple carbohydrates and the sugary foods."
For years, there’s been a myth that wearing a bra increases a women’s risk of breast cancer specifically underwire bras. People claim that the clothing blocks the drainage of lymph fluid from the bottom of the breast, and therefore cannot get back inside the body. However, there’s been no evidence to prove this, and it’s been labeled a rumor. In a 2014 study, researchers found that among 1,500 women (454 diagnosed with invasive ductal breast cancer; 590 diagnosed with invasive lobular breast cancer; and 469 who hadn't been diagnosed with breast cancer), there was no apparent link to cancer whether women wore a bra or not.
Being aware of the products you use, and what you put on your body, is a smart move. However, when it comes to an everyday item such as deodorant, a leading expert tells SurvivorNet that the hype around it is just that hype. There’s been talks that using deodorant can cause cancer because of the aluminum sometimes in the products, but apparently it would take being exposed to a huge amount in order to cause genuine health risks.
“The amount of aluminum that you would need to cause cancer is not the amount that you would be exposed to when using deodorant on a standard basis," Dr. Heather Yeo, a colorectal surgeon at Weill-Cornell, tells SurvivorNet. "That being said, there are people who are very anxious about it, and if they want to try and minimize their exposure, I think it's not unreasonable.”