Health Watch -- Breast Cancer Myths and Concerns

Health Watch is a Public Service of the  Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Anything that people fear tends to generate rumors. Breast cancer fits into that category.

First of all, if you get an e-mail telling you not to use antiperspirant because it causes breast cancer, just delete the message. Dr. Phil Evans, director of the Center for Breast Care at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, says it’s absolutely not true. There has been no link found between antiperspirant and breast cancer, and you’d think that with so many people using antiperspirant, it would have shown up by now.

Another breast cancer concern that’s become more prominent lately is the worry about hormone replacement therapy. Dr. Evans says that doctors have long been aware of a slight increase in cancer risk for women taking an estrogen and progesterone combination. The news lately about hormone replacement therapy is that it doesn’t appear to have as many benefits as previously thought to balance out those risks. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about hormone replacement therapy. Women taking this therapy should be extra diligent about mammography.

Doctors don’t know yet if birth control pills affect cancer risks. If there is a link, it’s a slight one. Birth control pills have been in use long enough that if there had been a strong link to cancer, it would have become apparent by now.