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Madrid, 16 October 2019. Each year over 32,500 women in Spain are diagnosed with breast cancer, according to figures from the Spanish Medical Oncology Society (Sociedad Española de Oncología Médica, or SEOM), and most of them will turn to social networks and the Internet for more information after their diagnosis. For World Breast Cancer Awareness Day, which is every 19th of October, Doctor Laura García Estévez, head of the Breast Unit at the MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid, wants everyone to know that there’s no scientific basis for most of the information going around on social networks and even among groups of women friends and relatives.

Eating habits feature in many of these recommendations. From superfoods and miracle diets like the ketone diet, the alkaline diet and the macrobiotic diet to forbidden foods like soy, the Internet is flooded with food advice that has no scientific studies of any kind to back it up. For instance, on the subject of soy, Doctor García Estévez declares, “There’s no recommendation from the American Cancer Society suggesting that soy should be avoided”, and she says it is absolutely safe to consume soy milk, soy sauce and soybeans.

Some people believe that antiperspirant deodorants can cause breast cancer, but the Journal of the National Cancer Institute has published a study that proves there’s no relationship of any kind between the kind of deodorant one uses and the appearance of breast cancer. Even so, many women still embrace the idea.

One of the oldest myths deals with bras, which are said possibly to cause breast cancer by compressing the lymph tissue. It’s another assertion that Doctor García Estévez considers completely bereft of scientific foundations. “It’s true they tell you to wear sports bras instead of underwire bras after breast cancer surgery, but that’s just a surgical recommendation. It has nothing to do with the development and/or progression of the tumour”, she stresses.

The Mediterranean diet and physical exercise, real breast cancer prevention

Following the Mediterranean diet and doing regular physical exercise are the only two recommendations for preventing breast cancer that are backed up by scientific studies. Along with these two recommendations, Doctor García Estévez also reminds people of the importance of avoiding tobacco and keeping alcohol consumption to moderate levels to try and reduce the risk of developing breast cancer to a minimum.

Another thing that can help us not prevent but detect breast cancer as soon as possible is population screening. Ultrasound scans and mammograms are offered to women when they reach a certain age, which may vary from region to region. To supplement this, regularly examining one’s own breasts can also help in the early detection of breast cancer, the leading kind of cancer among Spanish women.