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3 Things That Don’t Actually Increase Your Breast Cancer Risk

Every year during Breast Cancer Awareness Month you likely hear a lot about the risk factors for this widespread disease, along with recommendations for prevention and methods for early detection. What you don’t often hear about? Things that don’t cause breast cancer, from bras to breast implants. At our Albany, NY practice, we’re all about patient education and setting the record straight, so let’s talk about these rumored risk factors. This is October, after all.

  • Underarm deodorant/antiperspirant: Don’t work up too much of a sweat over this one. Although you may have read or heard that using these products causes breast cancer, the U.S. National Cancer Institute says there is no evidence to support such concerns. On its website, the government agency cites a study that included more than 800 women with breast cancer and that found no link between the risk of the disease and the use of antiperspirants, the use of deodorants, or the practice of shaving before applying either product. Another study of breast cancer survivors did find that women who used antiperspirants/deodorants and shaved their underarms more frequently had cancer diagnosed at an earlier age. The possible explanation from researchers? They say these women had an earlier menarche or higher levels of certain hormones, both of which have been known to increase the risk of breast cancer and also to increase body hair.
  • Bras: You may have also heard that wearing a bra can lead to higher breast cancer risk. Scientific evidence does not support this. According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a study conducted back in 1991 found that premenopausal women who did not wear bras had a lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who did wear bras. The authors of the study concluded that the link was likely due not to the actual bras, but to related health factors. For example, women in the study who went bra-less were more likely to be lean, which researchers say may explain the lower risk.
  • Breast implants: Do breast implants cause breast cancer? This is a question I often hear during breast augmentation consultations at our Albany plastic surgery practice. Several studies have shown that breast implants do not increase the risk of breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. But special care may need to be taken when having a mammogram after breast augmentation, and you may need to have a screening before getting breast implants. For more on the topic of mammograms and breast implants, read this blog post. As both breast cancer and breast augmentation become more common, researchers are constantly studying any and all effects of breast implants. As a board-certified plastic surgeon, I consider it my duty to stay on top of this research in order to provide my patients with the latest information available.

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