Breast Cancer Awareness Month is coming to an end. This month focuses on breast cancer awareness, and most people know that this disease exists. But, there is a lot of bad information out there. Many people think that all breast cancer is hereditary or that men cannot get breast cancer. It’s time to sort out the myths from the facts.
Myth one — Men cannot get breast cancer
Wrong! Men get breast cancer, just not as often as women. This myth is particularly dangerous because physicians believe it too. If a man shows signs of breast cancer he should get it checked out.
Myth two — All breast cancer is hereditary
In fact, only 10 percent of all breast cancer is from hereditary breast cancer. Most women who get breast cancer do not carry a gene mutation, nor do they have a strong family history. Many women with breast cancer have no risk factors at all. This is why education is so important.
Myth three — There are super-foods that prevent breast cancer
This is false. There is no such thing as a super-food, although some foods are healthier than others. One of the best ways to reduce your risk of breast and other cancers is to eat a healthy diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables. Including foods like mushrooms, broccoli, cabbage, blueberries and pomegranates and avoiding junk foods like candy and chips will reduce your risk for cancer.
Myth four — You cannot control your breast cancer risk
False! You can reduce your risk by making certain changes in your lifestyle. Women who are physically active, exercising for at least 30 minutes a day, three or more days per week, have a lesser risk for breast cancer than women who are inactive.
Weight is another risk factor within your control. Keep as close to your ideal weight as possible greatly reduces your risk for breast cancer.
Alcohol consumption is another risk. Although there is nothing wrong with an occasional drink, having more than one drink per day greatly increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer.
Myth five — Mammography is the only way to screen for breast cancer
This is not true and women should understand that mammography is not without risk. For women under the age of 40, ultrasound and MRIs are more accurate than mammography because the younger a woman is, the more dense her breast tissue is. Mammography is not accurate on dense breast tissue.
Other options for screening include ultrasound, MRI, and new technologies like positron emmision mammography.
All imaging that uses radiation poses a slight increase cancer risk to the patient. Women should asses their risk for breast cancer and weight that risk against the increased risk associated with mammography. If you are concerned about your risk for breast cancer, speak with your physician to determine the best screening methods for your situation.