Every woman is eager and curious to know what causes this disease – Breast Cancer and how can she lower and eliminate the chances of getting it? Sadly, the concern cannot be resolved in black and white.
No researcher or doctor can take 100% guarantee of a risk free life even with all negatives taken care of. But yes, one can definitely bring down the risk factors to a large extent.
Come, let’s walk through them.
Simply Being a Woman
What an irony but the fact is that being a woman itself is a major risk factor for developing Breast cancer during the lifetime. Now, a sex change is not the most realistic or a reasonable option to curb this risk. So do we have choices? Yes, indeed.
Following a healthy lifestyle, maintaining an ideal weight, exercising and limiting alcohol intake is the best a female can do to keep the disease at the farthest end.
Just like many other diseases, risk of breast cancer goes up as the female ages. 2 out of 3 invasive breast cancers, women are found to be 55 or older. The best reasoning given to support this could be that the longer we live, there are more opportunities for genetic mutation (damage) in the cells and with age our bodies become less capable of repairing that genetic damage.
Family History & Genetics
Yes, it does run in families! Women who have their close relatives diagnosed with breast cancer have a little higher (up to 10%) risk of developing the disease. The risk increases manifold if first-degree female relatives like sister, mother or daughter are diagnosed with breast cancer.
Only 5 to 10% of breast cancers are caused by abnormal genes that get passed from parent to child. Mostly, the inherited cases of breast cancer are associated with two types of abnormal genes- BRCA1 and BRCA2.
Everyone has these BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and the function of the BRCA genes is to repair cellular damage and keep breast cells to grow normally. But when these genes start mutating or contain abnormalities that are passed from generation to generation, they stopped functioning normally and breast cancer risk of the person increases.
Obese women are at a higher risk as compared to women who are within limits of a healthy weight, especially post menopause.
This higher risk is related to obese females having more fat cells, resulting in more estrogen production. This over production of estrogen can make the hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers to develop and grow.
Radiation Exposure to Chest or Face Before 30
Previous radiation to the chest (to treat another type of cancer such as Hodgkin's disease or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) or face may increase the chances of breast cancer.
Pregnancy and Breast Feeding History
Women who have their first child after 30 years have an increased risk. Breastfeeding can lower breast cancer risk, especially if a woman breastfeeds for longer than 1 year.
Before a full term pregnancy, the breast cells are immature and respond hugely to estrogen as well as hormone-disrupting chemicals in products. Pregnancy makes the breast cells mature and grow normally.
Early onset (younger than age 12) of periods (early menarche) and late finishing (post 55 years) of periods (menopause) in women brings her closer to the risk of breast cancer later in life, possibly because of increased number of period cycles.
Drinking Alcohol and smoking
Consistently researches have shown that drinking alcohol and smoking increases a female’s risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Alcohol increases the levels of estrogen and other hormones linked with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Alcohol may also increase the risk of breast cancer by damaging DNA in cells.
Having Dense Breasts
Dense breast tissue can be 6 times more likely to develop breast cancer and also makes it harder for mammograms to detect it. Dense breast tissue runs in families.
Using HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy)
Females on hormone replacement therapy to ease menopausal symptoms and also to reduce bone loss have a higher risk of falling for breast cancer.
Some of the factors mentioned above are modifiable, other are not.
This means risk factors that can be modified and dealt with are the ones we should focus and pay attention to. For the rest, we should keep a close vigil by undergoing regular breast examination and screening tests.
By choosing the healthiest lifestyle options, making small but significant changes in life like exercising, not smoking or drinking or maintaining a healthy weight can empower your to make sure your breast cancer risks are lowered to the max.
Image source: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2008/may/05/genetics.health http://fitnessnmakeup.blogspot.in/2012/02/what-every-woman-should-know-about.html