• To do our part in raising awareness of breast cancer this Pinktober, Oasis Living looked at some common myths and misconceptions surrounding the illness

    Breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women and the second most common cancer overall. There have been over 2 million cases of breast cancer reported worldwide in 2018 alone, and in the UAE, it makes up 44 per cent of cancers among women.

    Yet, in spite of its alarming prevalence, there are many misconceptions surrounding it and a lack of knowledge can be just as harmful and dangerous. Here are five myths that need to be busted.

    #1 Men can't get breast cancer

    While men don't develop breasts as women do, their bodies are still home to breast cells and tissues which are capable of mutating into cancerous cells. Cases of male breast cancer are rare though and, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation in Australia, only one in a thousand men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer as opposed to one in eight women being diagnosed. Men should get in the habit of conducting at-home self-examinations as well.

    #2 Breast cancer runs in the family Family history does add an increased risk but only five to 10 per cent of the cases are thought to be hereditary. Otherwise, everyone is at risk of breast cancer with lifestyle and environmental factors - like poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, drinking alcohol, and hormone therapy - also playing a hand.

    #3 Bras, deodorants, antiperspirants, and shaving cause breast cancer

    Such claims have been circling around since the nineties but have no real evidence to support them. Women are advised against wearing certain products containing aluminium before partaking in a mammogram though as the element can show up on the image and provide an inaccurate reading.

    #4 Finding a lump means you have breast cancer

    There are different reasons why a lump develops, and most are not cancerous, nor do they pose risk. Common causes include infections, trauma, fluid-filled cysts or fat deposits. If you do detect a lump, it is best to have it evaluated immediately.

    #5 Breast cancer is contagious

    You cannot catch or transfer cancer to someone else. There is no evidence which suggests that any form of close or physical contact can spread cancer to another person. Cancer is the result of the growth of mutated cells within the body, there is nothing viral about it.