When Julián Ríos Cantú was 8, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The cancer was detected early, and Graciela Cantú was able to have the cancerous tumor removed.
But five years later, when Julián was 13, his mother was again diagnosed with breast cancer. This time, the cancer was caught too late, and she underwent a double mastectomy.
“The tumor grew from the size of a grain of rice to that of a golf ball in less than six months,” Cantú said. “In her words, she felt ‘mutilated’ by her disease.”
This situation is not uncommon in Mexico, where Cantú and his family live. There, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 30 minutes.
This experience sparked the idea for Cantú, now an 18-year-old entrepreneur, to get his revenge on breast cancer by creating EVA: a bra that can help detect early signs of breast cancer.
Cantú explains women wear the bra for 60-90 minutes a week to regularly monitor her breasts’ health.
“Why a bra?” Cantú asks in an interview with El Universal. “Because it allows us to have the breasts in the same position and it doesn’t have to be worn more than one hour a week.”
“All significant information, including breast color, texture and temperature, is sent via bluetooth to our mobile and web apps,” Cantú said. “Finally, our health algorithms analyze the information, with the help of neural networks.”
A weekly output of the diagnostics is sent to the woman wearing the bra, as well as her personal oncologist.
“It reduces time gaps by up to 95 percent,” Cantú says. “By doing so, it saves millions of lives.”
Cantú believes the bra will be especially useful in remote, rural and low-income areas where women might not have access to women’s health clinics.
On May 1, 2017, Cantú won the top prize at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) for creating EVA. He is the first Mexican to win the award, as well as the youngest.
This invention is still only a prototype, and Cantú estimates that it will be another two years before it is certified to use.
Graciela, his proud mother, shares her son’s fame on social media any chance she can get.
“Wow, I’ve got a famous boy in the house,” Graciela says in her Facebook post. “He and his team at Higia are extraordinary boys.”
Cantú is currently the CEO and co-founder of Higia Technologies, a company he established with three of his friends when he was 17.
“Higia Technologies is a Mexican biosensors company devoted to boosting women’s quality of life by attaining a professionalisation of the self exploration method for the early and effective detection of breast cancer,” according to the Higia website.
According to the website’s facts, 8,200,000 women die from breast cancer each year, and only 1,700,000 women recieve an official diagnosis.
“Let’s give women a better chance at life,” Cantú says.