Biggest breast cancer myth: It's only hereditary

CINCINNATI - One of the biggest breast cancer myths is that if you don't have a family history of breast cancer you don't have to worry about it.

"Most people think that there are identifiable risk factors and that if there's no family history they're shocked if they are diagnosed with breast cancer.  In fact, 80-percent of patients have no identifiable risk factors including family history of breast cancer," Dr. Rebecca Bechhold, a medical oncologist at Oncology Hematology Care.

Kristin Innis is a 41-year-old mother of three in Kenwood.  

"I have no family history of breast cancer.  My dad is one of six children. No one has had cancer of any kind. So it didn't really occur to me or I didn't feel the urgent need have a mammogram because I don't have a history of breast cancer. So I was putting it off. I was a healthy person," said Innis.

Last January Innis was getting ready to see her doctor, who had recommended a year prior that she get a mammogram. She never had one and was a year overdue, so she made an appointment.

Innis' mammogram revealed HER2 breast cancer which is a more aggressive type of breast cancer. She started chemotherapy two weeks later and after a double mastectomy is cancer free.  

Innis walked throughout her chemo treatments. She says the exercise offered mental relief for her. 

Dr. Bechhold says exercise is one of the best things we can do for ourselves, and it is especially beneficial for patients going through chemotherapy.

"Patients who exercise through their chemotherapy treatment do much better and have less recurrence.  Exercise is something that we can do that is so beneficial and it's free. It benefits you in other ways, for your heart heart health, your vascular health, exercise and diet.

Dr. Bechhold says you can reduce your risk with a healthy lifestyle, limiting red meat and alcohol. Keeping body fat down with reduce recurrence rates. The more fat the higher the estrogen levels in your blood stream.  Estrogen in body fat will feed the cancer.

Innis' advice to other women- do not put off the mammogram, no matter how healthy you are.

Oncology Hematology Care

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