Here's an example of the media taking a research study's findings completely out of context and confusing the public.
Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley found that compression of breast cancer cells grown in a laboratory made them assume a normal growth pattern.
Reports on this study may have been derailed by the university's own press release which was entitled "To revert breast cancer cells, give them the squeeze."
The study was presented at a meeting and has not been published. If you read the press release, it is very clear that the research involved only cells. The authors played down any practical use of the information, saying that even a compression bra would probably not be any value. Specifically, they said “Compression, in and of itself, is not likely to be a therapy.”
If you google "Squeezing breasts prevents cancer," you will find over 50 hits. Most of them prominently feature photos of women in various stages of undress and articles with sophomoronic (A word I just made up–a combination of sophomoric + moronic) commentary.
Here's one take on the subject from Elite Daily, the Voice of Generation-Y that cuts right to the chase: "You Can Now Help Prevent Breast Cancer By Squeezing Some Tits." [Contains NSFW photo.]
Cosmopolitan magazine's headline is "Can Squeezing Your Boobs Prevent Breast Cancer?" The brief article [with obligatory NSFW photo.] completely misstates the findings of the research. Here's an excerpt. "A new study by a group of researchers in California proves that squeezing breast tissue can stop cancerous cells from growing. That's right, when your guy cops a feel, it's actually helping your tatas."
Here's another quote. "Scientists didn't go into deets [sic] about how your boobs should be squeezed, but said "physical pressure" was key." They didn't go into "deets" because there was nothing about actually squeezing breasts in the paper or the press release except mentioning that direct pressure on the breasts would probably not be of value.
A website called "Cancer Treatment Centers," has a rather demeaning video [NSFW beginning of video and side of page] discussion of the study by a man and a woman. Among the many stupid things, he asks her how hard he should squeeze, and she answers.
OK, "Nudge nudge. Wink wink. Say no more, say no more." [Monty Python sketch]
It was all in fun. What's the harm?
For one thing, breast cancer is not funny.
This sort of sensationalism is misleading and trivializes a serious problem.
I have no doubt that many casual or scientifically challenged readers of these sites are convinced that squeezing breasts prevents cancer.
That's too bad.