By EJ Haben
If you google “cancer,” you’ll find millions of webpages. But be careful, not everything you read online is true. Moffitt Cancer Center is diving into the hard facts and setting the record straight on some of the more common cancer myths.
Men don’t get breast cancer
Everyone knows that women are at risk of breast cancer, but did you know it also impacts men? Every year, about 2,550 men are diagnosed with the disease. Dr. John Kiluk, a breast cancer surgeon, says Moffitt Cancer Center sees about five to 10 male breast cancer cases per year. Despite not being able to carry milk, males have nonfunctioning ducts that still are susceptible to cancer. Since men have less breast tissue than women, they would be able to notice a lump easier.
The average age of a male breast cancer patient is late 60s or early 70s.
Antiperspirants cause breast cancer
Due to the close proximity between breast cancer development in the upper outer quarter of a breast and the armpit, many believe there is a correlation between deodorant application and breast cancer. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates food, cosmetics and medical devices, has found no evidence or research data that ingredients in underarm antiperspirants or deodorants cause cancer.
Colorectal cancer affects only men
According to the American Cancer Society, one in 24 women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime, and the disease is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women. According to gastroenterologist Mark Friedman, “Colorectal cancer is also responsible for the third highest incidence of new cancers in women each year — behind breast and lung cancers.” Women should be screened for colorectal cancer as often as men. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends colon cancer screening start at age 50.
Having a “cancer gene” means you’re doomed to get cancer
Having a “cancer gene” does not guarantee that you will get cancer, but it can predict if the inherited gene change will put you at a higher risk to develop cancer. Christine Steele, one of Moffitt’s certified genetic counselors, explains that “hereditary cancers are caused by a change (also called a mutation) in certain genes. Inherited changes are passed down from mothers or fathers through genetic material. These gene changes increase a person’s risk for developing one or more types of cancer.” However, not everyone who inherits the gene change will develop cancer. Moffitt recommends genetic counseling to assess your inherited cancer risk and discuss whether genetic testing is right for you.
I can’t develop skin cancer in the winter
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer. UV rays are produced by the sun all year long, even during the cold winter months. Some common high-altitude winter activities, such as skiing and snowboarding, expose you to intense UV rays because of the thin atmosphere and the snow’s reflection of the UV rays. To reduce exposure to these UV rays, apply sunscreen liberally to all areas of exposed skin, especially the highly vulnerable and sensitive areas of your body, such as your face, ears and hands.