What causes breast cancer? There are many rumours around breast cancer causes, but some of them are myths. Many women do not know what the real risk factors are. Let’s talk about myths, risk factors and how to detect cancer at early stages. We should keep in mind that the earlier cancer is diagnosed, the more chances there are to save a person’s life. It used to be a death sentence but now 8 out of every 10 women get cured.

There are three most popular myths about breast cancer, let’s debunk them!

Your bra could kill you

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The idea that wearing an underwired bra can cause cancer was suggested in 1995. Sydney Singer and Soma Grismaijer published a book called Dressed to Kill in which they claimed that there was a link between wearing a bra and cancer.

The myth drew attention again in 2015 when an alternative medicine practitioner Habib Sadeghi wrote an article about it on Gwyneth Paltrow’s website.

The truth is, none of the authors who spread this myth are qualified doctors or cancer specialists.  These studies were not reviewed by medical experts and were not published in respected journals which is the norm for legitimate scientific discoveries.

The authors themselves say that their data is based on a survey of 4000 American women. They came to the conclusion that women who wear a bra have a 3 in 4 chance of developing breast cancer. And those who do not like wearing this clothing article have 1 in 168 chance.

The researchers justify their conclusion saying that underwired bras block lymphatic fluid circulation which results in breasts being swollen with “toxins” (the word itself points to junk science). This is very unlikely. Lymph flows in a different direction and a well-fitted bra prevents breast ligaments from over-stretching. Another reason Dressed to Kill was criticized is that there were no real breast cancer risk factors described. For instance, obesity, which makes women wear a bra for longer periods.

A 2014 study found that there is no link between bras and increased breast cancer risks. The American Cancer Society, US National Institutes of Health and Cancer Research UK also stress that there is no evidence for that.

In short: The assertion that underwired bras block lymph circulation which causes breasts to swell with toxins that lead to breast cancer is a myth. There is no scientific proof of that. Simply buy a comfortable bra.

Sweat-free armpits or healthy breasts? You need to choose!

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Another popular myth is that antiperspirants cause breast cancer. The idea is that deodorants block “toxins” (the same pseudoscience word again!) from being sweated out. Another suggestion is that antiperspirants contain aluminium salts which are absorbed through the skin and cause cancer.

Most harmful substances are flushed out of the body by the liver and kidneys and not through armpits. This is why we drink so much water after a night at a bar with lots of alcohol.

Almost all the studies that show a link between deodorants and cancer are signed by only one author Dr Philippa Darbre and come from a single laboratory. For example, one of the studies showed that cancerous breast tissue contains aluminium, however, there was no comparison with normal healthy tissue. If there is no proof that a substance is present in much greater quantities in an affected tissue than in a healthy one, then there is no reason to believe that there is a direct link.

A 2002 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute studied 1606 women. The scientists didn’t find any correlation between breast cancer and deodorants.

Another study, in 2006, compared women with and without breast cancer. It found that 82% of healthy women used antiperspirants on a regular basis. And only 52% of the women with cancer used them. This certainly runs contrary to the theory that antiperspirants cause cancer.

In short: Deodorants do not block “toxins” from flushing out of your body and do not trigger cancer because of aluminium salts. It’s a myth, scientific studies have not found any links. You can use them safely!

Mammography poses cancer risks because of emitting radiation and squeezing tumours

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The earlier you detect breast cancer the more chances you have of curing it without any consequences. Early breast cancer detection reduces the risk of dying from it by 25% which is why the myth that mammography causes cancer is a particularly dangerous one.

The radiation from a 20-minute mammogram every year is tiny, less than a chest X-ray. It’s not enough to increase the risk of developing a breast cancer.  The process of metastasis when cells break off a tumour, spread and create a secondary tumour in a different place in the body is biologically complex and is not triggered by squeezing a tumour.

The myth exists because mammography is scary for women who fear that they might find a cancer. But let’s not forget that the earlier it is diagnosed the more chances there are of curing it. We are long past the time when breast cancer was a death sentence. Today, 8 out of every 10 women get cured. The chances are very high, aren’t they?

In short: Mammogram radiation is too weak to cause breast cancer. Breast cancer has an 80% chance of being cured if it is detected at early stages. So don’t forget to have annual checkups, especially if you are over 40.

Real breast cancer risk factors

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  • Infrequent sex, long and frequent periods without it (more than 1 month)
  • Sexual dissatisfaction
  • A lot of stress, long periods of emotional pain
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy after age 35
  • No pregnancy before age 35
  • Age 40 and older (the risks increase with age)
  • Liver diseases
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Too lengthy periods of daytime

How to detect breast cancer at early stages

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The most effective way to deal with breast cancer is preventive diagnostics, before the disease develops. Don’t forget to have medical checkups!

If you don’t have time to remember all that but you want to reduce the risks, subscribe to Welltory Preventive Care plan. Your personal health analyst will recommend you to have checkups and testing, will make medical appointments for you or call a doctor to your place.

Besides, daily wellbeing reports will help you detect the moment when something goes wrong. Heart rate variability measurements involve prenosological diagnostics. It’s when a disease hasn’t developed yet, but changes in the body already take place. This will help you detect serious diseases early.

We are not promising to detect cancer, we don’t yet have our own cases to confirm that, you need at least half a year of a user’s wellbeing data. Research shows that detecting cancer by analysing heart rate variability is possible. And it’s one of the most harmless and simple diagnostic methods.

A Guardian article by Naomi Elster, a scientist and researcher at the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland, was used as a source for this post.


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