Breast Cancer Myths Debunked | by Debra Melani

Posted on Fri, Jan 18, 2013

We ask Dr. Joyce Moore, co-director, Breast Care Program, Sky Ridge Medical Center, Lone Tree, Colorado to shed some light on common breast cancer concerns.

Your father’s family history of breast cancer doesn’t matter.

MYTH: When we look at breast cancer history, part of what we are looking for is whether women might carry the BRCA gene. This gene puts them at increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer and can be transferred down from the mother or the father. Only about 7 percent of men with the gene get breast cancer. So if your dad didn’t have breast cancer, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t carry the gene. You need to look at breast and ovarian cancer rates in his sisters, aunts and mother.

Breast cancer is the leading cancer killer in women.

MYTH: That used to be true, but it’s not anymore, partly because the screening and treatment is so much better. Breast cancer is still the most common cancer among women, but it’s highly treatable. Mortality rates have dropped by 40 percent in the past few decades. Nowadays, lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer of women, and heart disease is the overall No. 1 killer.

The following can boost breast cancer risk:


MYTH: Not at all. In some women, it can make their fibrocystic disease symptoms worse, a condition that causes tenderness and lumpiness of the breasts. But caffeine does not increase the risk of breast cancer.

Excess weight

TRUE: We know that women who are overweight have an increased chance of breast cancer partly because the heavier you are, the more estrogen you produce. Excess estrogen has been linked to breast cancer. Fat cells might also release hormones that stimulate cell growth. Numerous studies, some very recent, have also linked obesity (BMI above 30) to increased risk of breast cancer recurrence and death.

Large breasts

MYTH: The size of the breast, large or small, does not change a woman’s risk for breast cancer.

Plastic water bottles

UNCLEAR: That’s a tough one, because we don’t know the data on that yet. I couldn’t say yea or nay. We don’t know longer term whether chemicals in plastic bottles are truly a cancer risk or not.

Breast implants

MYTH: In fact, oftentimes women with implants will feel lumps that are smaller, because the implants stretch the tissue so much.


MYTH: The theory was the aluminum deodorants would clog up the pores and would back up the lymphatic system and increase risk, but it’s not true.

Joyce Moore, MD | learn more!

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