Komen Michigan: Myth Busters

Komen Myth Busters

You know that National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is in October. You know that pink ribbons are for breast cancer. But do you know where your donations go when you give to Komen Michigan? Do you know if mammograms cause cancer? If not, read on for a few of the myths we’ve BUSTED with the truth.

Myth 1

Out of every $1 invested in Komen Michigan*…

  • $0.39 funds our community grants
  • $0.17 funds educational outreach and community services
  • $0.13 funds research to find cures for breast cancer
  • $0.11 goes towards salaries
  • $0.09 goes towards general office costs (rent, utilities, advertising, etc.)
  • $0.06 is spent on our events (Race for the Cure, Ride for the Cure, etc.)
  • $0.03 pays for travel expenses
  • $0.02 pays taxes and service fees

Where Your Money Goes

*Data has been collected from 2013 financial records.  Updated data will be available in October 2015.

Myth 2

Susan G. Komen Michigan fights breast cancer with a 1-2 punch: Komen Michigan funds programs to address the immediate needs in our community while funding research to end breast cancer forever. 75% of the net proceeds raised are kept in the local community and used to fund community grants that provide screening and diagnostics, education and awareness programs, and survivorship programs to uninsured and under-insured men and women in Michigan (click here for a full list of our currently funded programs). 25% funds global ground-breaking research to find cures for breast cancer.

FY15 Komen Michigan 7525 Infographic v2

Research Community Grants Susan G. Komen Michigan

For many, we provide services that aren’t covered anywhere else. Our funding is used to fill gaps in services for uninsured, under-insured and medically under-served women and families who otherwise would not have access to breast health and breast cancer care. Komen Michigan does not duplicate services. We partner to connect people to existing programs and Komen Michigan funding only fills in gaps. Through a thorough assessment of breast health needs in our service area we are able to determine unmet needs of individuals in Michigan. Our current funding priorities include

  1. Increasing access to screening by reducing financial, individual or other barriers to timely and complete access
  2. Culturally appropriate education and community navigation through strong community outreach and navigation programs
  3. Increasing availability of survivorship programs that support survivors with a focus on emotional well-being, wellness programs and lifestyle intervention strategies.

One question we get asked often is if Komen Michigan funds Planned Parenthood. Komen Michigan does not fund Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has not requested funds and therefore cannot be awarded funds. In Michigan, we are extremely fortunate to live near many great healthcare organizations with many options for care, but other Komen Affiliates are not so lucky. Some affiliates with rural communities rely on Planned Parenthood to fund breast health programs as they do not have the resources we have in Michigan. Those affiliates solely fund breast health programs for uninsured, under-insured and under-served men and women using funds raised in their own service area. Komen Affiliates fund only the programs in their own communities as independent entities (which can be found here).

Myth 3

When you have a mammogram you are exposed to a small amount of radiation. While the radiation exposure can increase the risk of breast cancer over time, the increase in risk is minuscule. Studies show the benefits of mammography outweigh the risks from radiation exposure, especially for women ages 50 and older.

Myth 4

There is no scientific evidence that supports a link between wearing an underwire bra (or any type of bra) and increased breast cancer risk. Although wearing a bra does not appear to be linked to breast cancer risk, breast size is under study as a potential risk factor.

Myth 5

Due to regular mammography screening, most breast cancers in the U.S. are found at an early stage, before signs appear. However, not all are found through mammography.

The warning signs are not the same for all men and women, but the most common signs are a change in the look or feel of the breast, a change in the look or feel of the nipple and nipple discharge. If you have any of these warnings signs described below, see a healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Signs of Breast Cancer

Myth 6

Though we do not fully understand breast cancer and all the risks involved, there are steps we can take to reduce our risk. Healthy behaviors may lower your risk of developing breast cancer as well as other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Most importantly, know your risk, get regular clinical breast exams or mammograms and always know your normal. You are your own best advocate, you know how your body is supposed to feel!

Tips for leading a healthy lifestyle:

  • Be physically active and get regular exercise
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat at least 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables every day
  • Choose 100% whole grain foods
  • Limit red meat and processed meat and choose chicken, fish and beans more often
  • Limit bad fats (saturated and trans fats) such as red meat, fatty deli meats, poultry skin, full fat dairy, fried foods, margarine, donuts and microwave popcorn
  • Eat good fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats) such as olive and canola oil, nuts and natural nut butters, avocado and olives
  • Limit alcohol intake to less than one drink a day for women and fewer than two drinks a day for men

For more detailed information on managing your risk, visit the Komen website.

Myth 7

Most women with breast cancer do NOT have a family history of the disease. Only about 13 percent of women diagnosed have a first-degree female relative (mother, sister or daughter) with breast cancer. And men can get breast cancer too (it is estimated that in 2015 there will be over 2,300 new cases of breast cancer in men)!

Additionally, your risk may increase in you have a family history of prostate or ovarian cancer in one or more first-degree relatives (sister/brother or mother/father). See more about family history of breast, ovarian or prostate cancer.

Myth 8

Most lumps are NOT cancer. In younger women, lumps can often be related to menstrual periods and go away on their own by the end of your cycle. There are many types of benign breast conditions; some cause discomfort or pain and need treatment and others do not. Many benign breast conditions mimic the symptoms of breast cancer and need tests done for diagnoses (sometimes a biopsy). But try not to panic if you need further testing as most biopsy results do not show cancer. But don’t ignore any changes in your breast – see your doctor if you notice something has changed.

Myth 9

Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way to prevent breast cancer. Environmental and genetic risk factors are still being identified, but there are ways to reduce your risk for breast cancer.

Myth 10

Even though the entire breast is removed in a mastectomy, breast cancer can still return to the chest area. The more lymph nodes that contained cancer at the time of the mastectomy, the higher the chance of breast cancer recurrence. However, studies suggest that bilateral mastectomy can lower the risk of breast cancer in women at high risk by at least 90 percent.

In addition to a recurrence in the chest area, it is possible for metastasis to occur (distant recurrence). Some symptoms may include shortness of breath, weight loss and bone pain. It is important to continue regular checkups with your doctor and to continue to be your best advocate by knowing your normal and reporting any changes you notice. For more information on recurrence, visit the Komen website.

Myth 11

Despite the importance for breast cancer screening and diagnostics, mammography does not always catch cancer. For this reason, you should always know your normal (what looks and feels normal to you) and if you notice any changes, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Myth 12

Dairy products are under study as a factor that may increase or decrease breast cancer risk. Some researchers have suggested that the high fat content of dairy products or traces of pesticides or growth hormones in milk may increase risk. Others have studied whether the calcium and vitamin D in dairy may protect against breast cancer.

Researchers have also looked at dairy intake before and after menopause to see if there is a link to breast cancer. At this time, it appears unlikely that consuming dairy products is related to breast cancer after menopause and most studies have found no link between consuming dairy products and breast cancer in pre-menopausal women as well. However, data from the Nurses’ Health Study II found women who ate a lot of high-fat dairy products had an increased risk before menopause. More research is needed to confirm these findings. For a more in-depth explanation, visit the Komen website.

Myth 13

This is not true, for if it was, no one undergoing surgery would be cured. The vast majority of research suggests that the cancers which have metastasized have done so in an undetectable fashion before a breast cancer patient first sees a doctor. Cancers spill large numbers of tumor cells into the bloodstream every day once they have invaded outside the milk ducts. In addition, these cancers are well-oxygenated by the body. They do not need to be exposed to the air during surgery because they are already getting air through their blood supply.

Have any myths you’d like busted? Send us a message!