Breast cancer: Fact vs. fiction

Because the causes and cures of breast cancer are not yet fully known, there are many myths about the disease.


Here are common myths and relevant facts:


• I’m only 35. Breast cancer happens only in older women.


• Women with a family history of breast cancer typically get breast cancer.


• If I don’t have a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, I won’t get breast cancer.


• Women with more than one risk factor typically get breast cancer.


• You can prevent breast cancer.


• If I had a mammogram every year, I would be exposed to too much radiation, and that would cause cancer.


• Breastfeeding can increase my risk of breast cancer.


• While the risk of breast cancer increases with age, all women are at risk for getting breast cancer.


• Actually, most women who get breast cancer have no family history of the disease. However, a woman whose mother, sister or daughter had breast cancer has an increased risk. Having a male relative with breast cancer can also increase your risk.


• Even if you do not have a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, you can still get breast cancer. About 90 to 95 percent of women who get breast cancer actually do not have an inherited form of breast cancer or a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.


• Most women diagnosed with breast cancer have no known risk factors except being a woman and getting older. All women are at risk.


• Because the causes of breast cancer are not yet fully known, there is no way to prevent it. However, the drugs tamoxifen or raloxifene can help reduce the risk.


• Making healthy lifestyle choices may also reduce the risk of breast cancer.


• The small level of radiation from mammograms is believed to be safe, with the benefits outweighing the risks.


• Breastfeeding decreases a woman’s risk of getting premenopausal breast cancer.


For more information about risk factors, go to

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