October 23, 2015

Feminist Friday: Breast Cancer Myths Are Ridiculous

You may recall in a post last week, I mentioned that my family has an incredibly strong history of breast cancer. My dad's mom, grandmother, and great-grandmother all died from complications related to the disorder, and my dad's sister just endured a battle with it in the past few years. My dad's brother's wife also went through it, and my mom's brother's wife died from it.

I think you can understand when I say, then, that I take breast cancer very seriously.

So, imagine my...I don't even know the word for it. It's not surprise, because what I'm going to talk about appeared in Goop. It's not really disdain because that's just not strong enough. Disgust, maybe? Yeah, I think disgust will have to do.

So imagine my disgust when I saw several of my favorite skeptical blogs reporting on a post in the Goop newsletter about breast cancer that had some real doozies of misinformation in it, such as:

  • underwire in bras encourages cancer by impeding "lymphatic flow"
  • bras themselves encourage cancer growth by increasing the temperature of breast tissue
  • underwire in bras encourages cancer by perhaps maybe possibly magnifying and retaining radiation from cellphones and wifi.

Yes, a real thinking human being really put all three of those into a post, and yes, Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop newsletter really publicized it.

When I first saw it, my mind already convoluted with the first point, because one of the treatments all of my aunts received was, in fact, removing some lymph nodes. If impeding lymphatic flow encourages cancer, that certainly seems counterintuitive of their treatment staffs, no?

But I digress. I am by no means a medical expert, and I do not personally give medical advice or debunk medical myths most of the time. What I can do, however, is point you towards some sources to help you combat breast cancer myths during this particularly pink month of the year (and any time).

And it is, in fact, important for us to push back against these myths. Women's health has lagged over the centuries simply because it wasn't placed at the same premium as general practice. The maladies that most affect us have often been overlooked and ignored. Reclaiming our right to understand our bodies and our health is important, and we start that by educating ourselves, and we continue it by educating others. We have a right not to live in fear that our bodies may betray us, to instead own our bodies and have the information that helps us make informed decisions about our health.

Here's some sites to help do your part.

I love Dr. Jen Gunter's blog anyway, but this post was especially poignant. Gunter quickly dispatched all three of the notions above, made it easy to read and understand, and didn't even seem to break a sweat doing it.

I recommend her blog to everyone that has anatomy that requires gynecological upkeep. #truth

There's been a lot of changes in the world of breast cancer screening for those with breasts who are at moderate or low risk of the disease. In this piece, David Gorski, a surgeon who specializes in dealing with cancers, helps to explain the new guidelines, what's changed, and why.

This another persistent myth that Gorski tackles for science-based medicine.

Apparently, this is a thing that needed to be said? Over on Respectful Insolence, you can find tons of great medical information in general, and for the record, Orac, the writer, is David Gorski of the prior two posts. He's one of my personal favorite sources.

These are just a few posts, but searching "breast cancer" on any of these sites can take you even more in depth. I highly recommend arming yourself with information. It's empowering, to say the least.

And as for that Goop piece? Well, all I can say is, where is Kevin Spacey when you need him *??

* I am not actually encouraging violence against anyone, but I will admit to watching this movie whenever I read something about Goop that makes my head hurt. #CallItEven

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