Marla Ahlgrimm | October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Marla AhlgrimmSweet treats, tiny goblins, and pumpkin spice everything mean one thing. No, not Halloween. October heralds a message far more important than free candy, says Marla Ahlgrimm. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of the spooky feel of the season, Ahlgrimm demystifies a few of the myths surrounding this still-mysterious disease.

Myth: Any changes to the breast are likely cancer.

Fact: Marla Ahlgrimm explains that, while all lumps and physical changes should be monitored, not all tissue changes are cancer. Breast tissue can change throughout a woman’s lifetime. For instance, breastfeeding mothers may notice that their breast become hard and lumpy if it has been a while since their baby has nursed. This is typically caused by engorgement, a painful side effect of overabundant milk stores.

Myth: Breast cancer only affects women.

Fact: Surprisingly, men can develop breast cancer, too, says Marla Ahlgrimm. More than 2,100 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year – statistically, 410 of these will die due to the condition. Experts cite lack of awareness to higher mortality rates among male breast cancer patients.

Myth: A mammogram can spread breast cancer.

Fact: Marla Ahlgrimm insists that mammograms do not cause or spread breast cancer. Mammograms are no more harmful than a standard X-ray and are the most effective way to detect early-stage breast cancer.

Myth: Deodorant and antiperspirants are causing more cancer today than any other trigger outside of genetics.

Fact: The National Cancer Institute has debunked this on numerous occasions, says Marla Ahlgrimm. Even genetics is not the cause of most breast cancer diagnoses, as only about 10% of patients report a family history of the disease. The truth is that scientists don’t fully understand what causes breast cancer, but note that a poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and smoking, among other negative habits, contribute to a woman’s risk.

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