I was so happy when I saw the media attention given to a study published in the February 6 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institutethat has debunked—yet again—the notion that a woman’s personality traits make her more prone to breast cancer.

Over the past few years, a number of authors have written about a so-called “cancer-prone” personality. Although each author says it in his or her own way, the general gist is that women who keep their emotions bottled up (in their chest/breasts) or who are anxious or depressed are more likely to get breast cancer than women who speak out about how they feel.

To be sure, I think it’s important to encourage women to talk about how they are feeling. But it’s one thing to encourage women to speak up. It’s another to blame them for their own disease by telling them that if only they’d been direct with their spouse, partner, boss, etc. they wouldn’t have gotten breast cancer. If only it were so easy! So if you should get an earnest email forwarded to you from a friend or family member about how your personality can increase your breast cancer risk, please hit “delete.” Let’s stop this rumor once and for all.

Coincidentally, this week the Foundation received an email from a journalist who wanted to know whether wearing certain types of bras, such as sports bras that compress the breasts, increases breast cancer risk. When she told us she had gotten that question from a reader, our first thought was: that Internet rumor is circulating yet again! As we explain in the Internet rumors section of our site, there is absolutely no evidence that bras cause breast cancer. And while we are on the topic of rumors, antiperspirants don’t either.

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One Response to Personality Traits and Breast Cancer

  1. ninicholson says:

    I’m not so sure there isn’t some truth to having bottled up emotion or stress that doesn’t contribute. When my breast cancer was diagnosed I had no risk factors. I had lost a child seven years earlier. I was one of those that kept my feelings to myself. My husband also feels that this was a factor.

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