Learn The Truth Behind These 4 Common Breast Cancer Myths

Breast cancer is second most common type of cancer in women, and approximately 1 out of every 8 women will develop breast cancer at some time in her life. In spite of how common this disease is, there are a lot of untrue myths floating around about its diagnosis and treatment. Here's a look at four of those false myths and the real truth behind them.

Myth #1: If you don't have a family history of breast cancer, you don't have to worry about developing it.

While it is true that women who carry certain genes (the BRACA1 and BRCA2 genes, in particular) are at a higher risk of breast cancer, those who do not carry these genes may also develop the disease. In fact, 85% of breast cancer occurs in women who do not have a family history of the disease. Regardless of family history, it's important for you to conduct self breast  exams and undergo mammograms to check for early signs of cancer, like at University Women's Health Specialists.

Myth #2: Women only develop breast cancer after menopause.

Breast cancer is most common in post-menopausal women, but it can occur in younger women who are still menstruating, too. Approximately 7% of all breast cancer cases occur in women under age 40. If you have received radiation therapy in the chest area or carry one of the marker genes for breast cancer, you have an increased risk of developing the disease before menopause.

Myth #3: Taking birth control pills causes breast cancer.

This myth began to appear after several studies showed a slightly increased risk of breast cancer in women who had taken birth control pills in the last decade. However, many other subsequent studies have detected no relationship between hormonal birth control and breast cancer risk. Menopausal hormone replacement therapy, however, has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women.

Myth #4: Women who get breast cancer when young are able to fight it off and recover more easily than older women.

The opposite is actually true. Women under 40 who develop breast cancer are less likely to recover than post-menopausal patients. This is largely because breast cancer is harder to detect in the denser breast tissue of young women, and, therefore, young women tend to be diagnosed in later stages when treatment is not as effective.

Breast cancer is a disease that does not discriminate. It occurs in women of all ages and all races. The best way to protect yourself is to ensure that you catch the disease early if it does appear -- conduct your self breast exam every month.