It’s a disease that affects about 1 in 8 women during their lifetime, and in Canada, it is the third leading cause of death after heart disease and lung cancer. Yet new studies and medical advice reported in the media are often confusing or contradictory. Here some common misconceptions about the causes and detection of breast cancer from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF).

MYTH: Antiperspirants or deodorants cause breast cancer

FACT: Several studies have looked into a link between antiperspirants or deodorants and breast cancer, and there is still no conclusive evidence that using these products increases risk. However, since some deodorants contain aluminum, avoid wearing it when you go for a mammogram since it could lead to an inaccurate screening result by making cancers and other abnormalities more difficult to detect.

MYTH: Abortion and miscarriage cause breast cancer

FACT: Studies have shown no association between breast cancer and spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or induced abortion. These findings are supported by reputable organizations such as the National Cancer Institute (U.S.), Society of Gynecologic Oncologists of Canada and the World Health Organization.

MYTH: Breast implants cause breast cancer

FACT: Research has shown that having cosmetic breast implants does not increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer. Implants do, however, make it harder to see breast tissue and abnormalities on mammogram images. Women with breast implants should continue to have regular mammograms, experts say, but they should make sure to alert the screening facility about having implants when booking the appointment. A technique called implant displacement views can be used to more effectively screen women who have implants.

MYTH: Wearing an underwire bra causes breast cancer

FACT: Despite a common misconception, wearing an underwire bra — or any other kind of bra — does not raise your risk of breast cancer, researchers say.

MYTH: Bruising the breast causes breast cancer

FACT: Similarly, science has not shown that bumping or bruising your breast increases risk of breast cancer.

MYTH: Cell phone use causes breast cancer

FACT: At this time, there is no clear link between cell phone use and increased risk of breast cancer. In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer said that radiofrequency fields, such as those from cell phones, might cause cancer — but more research is needed before this is confirmed. If you’re concerned about cell phone use and a potential association with cancer, experts say to take basic precautions such as using a headset instead of holding the phone next to your ear, not carrying your phone next to your skin (e.g. an armband or your bra), and consider texting instead of talking.

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Cynthia Ross Cravit