The video was a part of the 'I Touch Myself' project, an initiative that promoted regular self-exams for early breast cancer detection.

By Macaela Mackenzie
October 01, 2018
Photo: Vivien Killilea/Contributor/Getty Images

It's officially October (wut.), which means Breast Cancer Awareness Month has officially begun. To help raise awareness of the disease-which affects one in eight women-Serena Williams released a mini music video on Instagram of her singing a cover the Divinyls' classic "I Touch Myself" while topless. (Related: Serena Williams' Important Body-Positive Message for Young Women.)

Yep, you read that right. The tennis legend performed the song as part of the I Touch Myself Project, an initiative supported by the Breast Cancer Network of Australia, to remind women of the importance of doing breast self-exams to help catch cases of breast cancer early.

"Yes, this put me out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to do it because it's an issue that affects all women of all colors, all around the world," Williams captioned the video. "Early detection is key-it saves so many lives. I just hope this helps to remind women of that." (Related: The Story Behind a Bra Designed to Detect Breast Cancer.)

Aside from the obvious pun, "I Touch Myself" has a deeper meaning. The Divinyls' frontwoman Chrissy Amphlett died of breast cancer in 2013 and her death inspired the I Touch Myself Project, which aims to educate women about the importance of touching their breasts in regular self-checks.

The thing is, monthly self-exams have recently become a bit controversial thanks to a 2008 meta-analysis of studies which found that checking your breasts for lumps every month doesn't actually reduce breast cancer mortality rates-and in fact may even lead to unnecessary biopsies. As a result, organizations including the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, Susan G. Komen, and the American Cancer Society no longer recommend self-exams for women with an average risk of breast cancer, meaning they have no personal or family history and no genetic mutations like the BRCA gene. (The ACS also changed their guidelines in 2015 to recommend later and fewer mammograms.)

"Most often when breast cancer is detected because of symptoms (such as a lump), a woman discovers the symptom during usual activities such as bathing or dressing," the ACS states, adding that women should still "be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a healthcare provider right away." (Related: What I Wish I Knew About Breast Cancer in My 20s.)

So, should you touch yourself?, a non-profit providing information and support for those affected by breast cancer, still recommends touching your breasts regularly as a useful screening tool-it certainly can't hurt-though this shouldn't replace screenings by your doctor.


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