Under the guise of spreading awareness, unscientific claims – that have been debunked over the years – continue to be popular on the social media.
By Tej Kumar
An Instagram post on breast cancer awareness says “Abortion increases the risk of breast cancer”; another post claims that “Wearing bras restrict the lymphatic flow resulting in breast cancer”. And then, there’s another one that states “Keeping cell phones under bras can lead to breast cancer”.
Even as the Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) comes to a close, the misinformation about breast cancer refuses to cease. Under the guise of spreading awareness, unscientific claims – that have been debunked over the years – continue to be popular on the social media.
Let’s look at the facts, backed by science, for each of the above-mentioned claims about breast cancer.
1. There is no proven link between abortion and breast cancer.
An abortion interrupts the normal hormonal cycle of a pregnancy, but there is no evidence that it can increase the risk of breast cancer. A large study on 1.5 million women found no link between abortion and breast cancer incidence.
2. There is no scientific evidence to establish that wearing a bra can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Bras can sometimes irritate the skin, but they don’t “restrict the lymphatic fluid” – not even the underwire bras, contrary to media reports. A study published by the American Association for Cancer Research clearly states that there is no evidence to support the claim.
3. There is no scientific study yet that has demonstrated the effect of cell phones on breast cancer.
The Instagram post mentions Cancer UK as the source of its misleading claim. However, we could not find a website by that name. We did find a website called Cancer Research UK though, and it says “the radio waves in mobile phones networks don’t have enough energy to damage DNA to cause cancer”. Research is still on to study the potential long-term effects of cell phone use on cancer. In the meanwhile, manufacturers recommend keeping the mobile device away from the body.