Breast Cancer Myths

Breast Cancer Specialists often hear numerous misconceptions from their patients. I will attempt to address the most often heard “myths” that I hear – some on a daily basis.

1. I can’t get breast cancer because I do NOT have a Family History. The association between having a family history and a person’s future risk is well documented in the medical literature. Family History (from a number of family members affected, their ages at diagnosis and the degree of separation from the patient) IS important. But Family History is not everything. We still diagnosis large numbers of women with breast cancer that have NO family history. In fact, up to 80-85% of women diagnosed have no known family history.

The causes of breast cancer are many. Family History increases one’s risk but other factors such as increasing age, density of breast tissue, race, having more menstrual cycles, a history of chest radiation, being overweight, etc. are also important.

There are some things that actually are thought to decrease risk. Some believe that increased physical activity for 1-3 hours per week could actually decrease someone’s lifetime risk of breast cancer. Losing weight, not smoking and minimal alcohol intake are lifestyle issues that could impact someone’s risk in a positive way. The benefits of breast- feeding are also well known.

In the end, there are so many factors that probably play a role in developing a breast cancer – that you will never be able to indentify the cause. Family history is not everything and EVERYONE should take their breast cancer risk extremely seriously. Breast cancer occurs in 1 out of 8 women. Remember, 85% of these know of no one else in their family with the disease.

Stay tuned to the next blog attacking another Myth about breast cancer . . . Mammograms are always right!


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