It seems like every day a new study is published declaring another possible cause for breast cancer. From antiperspirants to hair dye, countless products have been named as causes of breast cancer. However, not all of these claims have solid, trustworthy research to back them up. Trying to keep track of and avoid all of these things can be overwhelming.
If you see a news article pointing to a new cause of breast cancer, especially one that pertains to you, you might have the instinct to panic. Here are some things to keep in mind before you hit that panic button.
Does the article come from a reputable publication?
We’ve all heard the phrase “fake news” in recent months, but non-factual claims are not unique to the political realm. There are also swaths of misinformation in the field of science and medicine. If you see an exaggerated headline, make sure the article has been published by a newspaper or magazine that has a reputation for providing verifiable stories.
Was the study done by a reputable research center?
Even some of the most praised publications can’t resist the urge to publish the latest research, especially if it contains shocking or unexpected results. When this appears to be the case, research the school or laboratory that conducted the study. Are they considered to be highly reputable? Do they have a track record of publishing peer-reviewed studies? How big was their study sample? Who funded the study?
Is this a new theory, or have similar studies been conducted by other research centers?
One experiment does not result in a scientific law. It is important that the theory be tested by several different researchers to avoid misinterpreting the data, either through bias, error or mistake.
We get it. Trying to verify the validity of every new breast cancer study is time consuming and can be a full-time job — but it shouldn’t be yours. Trust your doctor or health care professional to do the research for you. If you are concerned that a product you have used is linked to cancer, ask your health care provider if there is any reason to worry.
Even if you managed to avoid every product or lifestyle choice that could increase your chances of developing breast cancer, you may still be at risk. For this reason, you should continue to have yearly mammogram checkups if you are over the age of 40.
If you cannot afford your yearly mammogram, or need financial assistance for cancer screenings, apply to The HealthyWoman Program. The HealthyWoman Program assists women with free mammograms and Pap smears within Pennsylvania.