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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is cancer screening? 
  • What is done for breast cancer screening? 
  • Should I be checking my breasts regularly? 
  • I’ve heard that antiperspirants (deodorant) can cause cancer, is this true? 
  • Is there a link between bras and breast cancer? 
  • Does heating food in plastic containers in the microwave cause cancer? 
  • Can men get breast cancer? 
  • I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables but I’m worried about the pesticides sprayed on them and a possible link to cancer.

1) What is cancer screening?

  • A test that finds abnormal cells before they become cancer
  • A test that finds cancer early before it has a chance to grow
  • A test that finds cancer in a person who does not yet have symptoms

2) What is done for breast cancer screening? 

  • Breast cancer screening is the regular examination of a woman's breasts to find breast cancer early. A breast X-ray (mammogram) is the best screening tool.

3) Should I be checking my breasts regularly? 

  • Women should be aware of the normal look and feel of their breasts even when regular screening tests are being done by their health provider.
  • Experts used to suggest that self examination of the breasts should be done by following a particular method every month. Research has since shown that this isn’t necessary. There really isn’t a right or wrong way to perform your own breast exam, as long as you get to know the whole area of the breast tissue – up to the collarbone, under the armpits and including the nipples – well enough to notice changes.
  • It may be normal for the breasts to be lumpy or tender before menstruation. Breast tissue changes with age. Understanding what is normal will help you to recognize changes and know what to report to your health care provider.

4) I’ve heard that antiperspirants (deodorant) can cause cancer, is this true?

  • There have been various studies done on a preservative called parabens which is found in many drugs, food and cosmetic products. Researchers believe that parabens have been known to mimic the effects of estrogen, which can promote breast cancer tumour growth. However it is not clear whether there is a direct cause and effect relationships between antiperspirants, deodorants and breast cancer. More research is needed to provide definitive answers about the issue.
  • To find out more, visit the Canadian Cancer Society.

5) Is there a link between bras and breast cancer?

  • At this time, there is no clear evidence that shows wearing a bra causes breast cancer. It is important to find good sources of information such as the ones listed on this site. In addition, if you have concerns, discuss them with your healthcare provider.
  • To find out more, visit the Canadian Cancer Society.

6) Does heating food in plastic containers in the microwave cause cancer?

  • There is some scientific evidence to suggest that substances used to manufacture plastic products may leach out of the container and into the food it holds, and that some of them may cause cancer. Because there are many kinds of plastics intended for different uses, it is important to learn about these plastics and how to minimize any risks.
  • To find out more, visit the Canadian Cancer Society .

7) Can men get breast cancer?

  • Although breast cancer can also occur in men, it is rare: approximately 170 Canadian men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, which represents less than 1% of all estimated breast cancer deaths.
  • Men and women share many of the same risk factors for breast cancer, including age, family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, obesity, and exposure to radiation of the chest wall.
  • Men and women also share many of the same risk reduction strategies, signs and symptoms of disease, methods of diagnosis, treatment options, and outcome measures.
  • Breast cancer is most commonly diagnosed in men over 60, but can be found in men of all ages.
  • To find out more, visit the Canadian Cancer Society.

8) I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables but I’m worried about the pesticides sprayed on them and a possible link to cancer.

  • In Canada, vegetables and fruit are regulated and monitored by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Studies show that less than 15% of the vegetables and fruit you buy have any pesticide remaining and less than 3% contain residue above the maximum limit.
  • The benefits of eating more vegetables and fruit far outweigh the risks from pesticides but it is important to thoroughly wash your fruit or vegetables before eating or cooking with them.
  • People often choose organic foods because they are concerned about the use of pesticides and the environment. But because pollutants may be found on both organic and non-organic foods they still need to be thoroughly washed.
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