Clearing up some of the myths about the causes of breast cancer.

Factors that are unlikely to affect breast cancer risk 

For these factors, the overall scientific evidence suggests they aren’t linked to the disease. In some cases there simply isn’t any evidence of a link; in others, research has shown there’s no link.

Despite the lack of evidence, these factors can still receive a lot of media attention, which can cause confusion about what has or hasn’t been shown to be linked to breast cancer.

For more information on any of the factors likely to affect your breast cancer risk, see our booklet on knowing the facts.

Breast cancer myths: the facts

Deodorants, antiperspirants and shaving

Using deodorants or antiperspirants does not increase your risk of breast cancer.

Claims that deodorant or antiperspirant use increases the risk of breast cancer have been circulating since 1999. More recently, there have been claims that aluminium in antiperspirants can cause breast cancer. Aluminium salts are commonly used as an ingredient in antiperspirants as they block the sweat ducts and stop sweating. There is no good evidence to support these claims. 

Women are advised to avoid using a deodorant, antiperspirant or talc containing aluminium when they go for a mammogram only because the aluminium might show up on the x-ray image and give an inaccurate reading.

Underwired bras

Wearing underwired bras does not increase your risk of breast cancer, despite some claims. Women need not be concerned about wearing any type of bra.

A good-fitting bra provides support. Women should be properly measured for their bras, which should be tried on to ensure a good fit. Bras that do not fit properly can cause discomfort and breast or back pain.

Bumping or bruising your breast

There is no good evidence that a bump or injury to the breast, including through sport, increases your risk of breast cancer. Sometimes a woman might just check her breasts more carefully after bumping or injuring her breast, and so may notice an unusual change in her breast, such as a lump. 

Read our blog

Find out more about breast cancer myths in our blog debunking common misconceptions

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Information last reviewed: July 2015

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