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Debunking 5 Breast Cancer Myths With Dr. Staci Tanouye

As women we have so many things to keep track of in our lives. Advancing in our careers, school pick-up, personal hygiene, eating well, being a good daughter, partner, sister—the list goes on and on. With that said, it can be difficult to stay up to date with the latest on preventative health care. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Soma® partnered with Dr. Staci Tanouye, a Board Certified Gynecologist, who is shedding light on a handful of common breast cancer myths you won’t want to miss.

Like us, this first breast cancer myth might surprise you! Dr. Tanouye shares: “This is probably the biggest misconception I hear from my patients. About 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in their life and up to 85% of them have no family history.”

Have you ever wondered about this breast cancer myth? In Dr. Tanouye's words, “Birth control pills do not cause breast cancer. There is some data that birth control pills may be related to a small increased risk in breast cancer while taking them and within the five years stopping the pill, but this increased risk equates to an extra 1 case of breast cancer for every 7,690 women using hormonal birth control—and does not mean the pill causes breast cancer. In addition, your risk goes back to baseline within five years of stopping hormonal contraception.”

Another important fact Dr. Tanouye points out: “we can’t forget that birth control pills significantly decrease the risk of ovarian, uterine, and colon cancers too.”

“This is also false,” Dr. Tanouye confirms, “hormonal therapy does not cause breast cancers as the cause of any breast cancer is very multifactorial. However, certain types of hormonal therapy may increase your risk of breast cancer. Menopausal hormone therapy that contains both estrogen and progestins increased breast cancer risk by less than 1 extra case per 1,000 women per year.”

“In women who have had hysterectomies who only need estrogen hormonal therapy, the risk of breast cancer actually decreased.”

Dr. Tanouye cuts right to the chase: “No. Not usually. At diagnosis, breast cancer usually doesn’t hurt. Many times there aren’t symptoms and breast cancer is detected only on screening mammograms. Other times, breast cancer may present itself as a painless lump in the breast that feels kind of like a rock. Although not impossible, breast cancer rarely hurts.

Most of us dread mammogram screenings because they’re straight up uncomfortable, but are they dangerous too? Dr. Tanouye debunks this breast cancer myth. She says: “I know many people are scared of the radiation exposure from a mammogram, but a screening mammogram is very low dose radiation. To put it into perspective, it’s about the same amount as two months of background radiation that we are exposed to in our day-to-day lives—or the same as a roundtrip flight from New York to LA and back.”

Dr. Staci Tanouye standing with crossed arms in a white lab coat, red floral blouse, black bottoms, and gold jewelry.
Dr. Staci Tanouye, Board Certified Gynecologist, currently practices in Florida and teaches women evidence-based medicine via her Instagram and TikTok, @dr.staci.t