Early detection is the best protection against breast cancer.

By taking a proactive approach to breast cancer detection through breast self-exams, discovering what is normal for you, and learning about available screening options, you can detect breast cancer at the earliest stage possible, when treatment is most successful.

Breast Cancer Myth or Fact?

Have you heard the urban legend that deodorant causes breast cancer? Click on the questions below to uncover the truth about this and other common breast cancer myths.

There is no good scientific evidence to support a link between breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use. In fact, a carefully-designed epidemiologic study of this issue published in 2002 compared 813 women with breast cancer and 793 women without the disease. The researchers found no link between breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, deodorant use, or underarm shaving.

Regardless of the cup size, wear frequency, style of bra or other criteria, there is no scientific evidence that bras increase the risk for developing breast cancer. As a matter of fact, for women experiencing lymphedema (buildup of excess fluid in the breasts) following cancer treatment, bras as well as other compression garments are recommended. Bottom line? Wearing a bra won’t increase your breast cancer risk.

According to the National Cancer Institute, breastfeeding for a total of one year over a woman's lifetime does lower her risk of breast cancer. Pregnancy in general may lower the chances of developing the disease, and the risk lessens even more with each child a woman has.

Only about 5 to 10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary; most patients have no family history of the disease. However, a woman's risk doubles if her mother, sister or daughter has breast cancer. If you have a family history of the disease, your doctor may suggest earlier and/or more frequent screenings.

Doctors aren't sure why, but women with dense breasts, in which the tissue is more fibrous than fatty, have a higher risk of breast cancer than women with low breast density. A mammogram can help determine whether you have low or high density breast tissue.

Experts say performing a breast self exam (BSE) lying down gives a better chance of finding abnormalities. Here's how to do it: Lie down and place your right arm behind your head. Using the first three fingers on your left hand, feel your right breast in small, circular motions. Then switch sides. Doing a BSE does not decrease a woman's risk of dying from breast cancer. Whether or not you do a BSE is up to you, but all women should learn how their breasts look and feel so they can recognize changes. Talk to your doctor about the screening options that are best for you.

Having a double mastectomy does drastically reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence, but there's still a small chance the cancer could return. Treatment may include surgery and radiation, as well as chemotherapy, hormone and/or targeted therapy.

In 2009, the Million Women Study in the United Kingdom found that women who had a little less than one drink (10 grams) a night had a 12% greater risk of developing breast cancer. Another study found that just three drinks a week could increase a woman's chance of breast cancer recurrence.

Information courtesy of Sharecare, Inc. Learn more about breast cancer myths and facts.

Breast Cancer Prevention Tips

1. Self Exam

Conducting a regular breast self-exam can help identify breast cancer in its early stages.

Take a Free Online Breast Cancer Risk Assessment

2. What's Normal and What's Not?

Breasts differ in size, shape and density, and often one breast will be slightly different from its pair. Conducting breast self-exams and learning what's normal for you is important. Dr Anne Kobbermann, with HCA Midwest Health, discusses the importance of breast self-exams in the video below.

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