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Health Matters: The breast cancer myths you should know

October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month – take the time to decode fact from myth in order to learn your personal risk factors.
Woman examining breast, mid-section, close-up
Rob Gage / Getty Images

While breast cancer awareness is very high, actual knowledge is surprisingly low. There are a number of myths that can impact your ability to learn more about your own personal risk factors.

MYTH: Breast cancer is inherited only from a mother’s side of the family.

FACT: Breast cancer is equally inherited from both a mother’s and father’s side of the family.

While the family history of both parents can contribute to your breast cancer risk, the rate of inherited breast cancer is very low – only about 5-10 percent. Certain groups, like Ashkenazi-Jewish women, can have a higher risk if they have the genetic marker BRCA 1.

MYTH: Underwire bras increase your breast cancer risk.

FACT: Wearing a bra of any type does not increase your breast cancer risk.

Wearing a bra – or not wearing a bra – has no impact on your cancer risk. Sleeping in a bra also does not increase your risk.

MYTH: Antiperspirants can increase breast cancer risk.

FACT: No increase in risk is seen with antiperspirant use.

No antiperspirants or deodorants have been demonstrated to raise your risk of breast cancer.

MYTH: Keeping your cell phone tucked in your bra raises your breast cancer risk.

FACT: Since current results are unclear, active scientific study is underway to determine if storing a cell phone in your bra raises your risk. In the meantime, it’s best to keep your phone out of your bra and store it somewhere else.

Be an advocate for your own health and do your own additional myth-busting! Get the facts by talking to your doctor or other health professional with any further questions.

Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD is the NBC News Health Editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.

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