During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, women have even more reason to start paying attention to preventative measures: According to recent research taking specific steps to help lower your risk and can make the difference between a healthy checkup and a dangerous diagnosis. Researchers analyzed years of studies and data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer to deduce that one-third of all breast cancer cases can be avoided simply through diet and exercise—a surprising conclusion that raised eyebrows worldwide and contradicts the common conception that some women are powerless against the disease due to genetic makeup or family history. What’s more, new research continues to compile to show exactly which nutritional and physical approaches can help best reduce your risk.
Women are encouraged to check for suspicious lumps and bump. This international health campaign is also aimed at raising funds for cancer research and offering support and information to people suffering from the disease. According to a study published in the Journal of Business Research, lack of awareness and early diagnosis is leading towards breast cancer epidemic. Raising awareness about the disease, its risk factors and prevention can help lower the chances of developing it. Here is a list of risk factors, which you should be aware of.
Some women will get breast cancer even without any other risk factors that they know of. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get the disease, and not all risk factors have the same effect. Most women have some risk factors, but most women do not get the cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute 12.9% of all women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. This estimate, from the most recent SEER Cancer Statistics Review is based on breast cancer statistics for the years 2015 through 2017. Here are some of the leading factors:
The risk of breast cancer goes up with age. Most of the invasive cases are diagnosed in women after the age of 50. This means 1 in 42 women over the age of 50 will be impacted while 1 in 204 younger than 30 will be. And for women born in the 1970’s the risk has dropped and it is now just 1 in 10.
Obesity or being overweight can also increase the risk of developing breast cancer as compared to those with a healthy weight. If you are overweight, the risk of recurrence of breast cancer also goes up.
Not being physically active
It is important to exercise regularly to lower the risk of breast cancer especially after menopause.
You are more likely to develop breast cancer if you have dense breasts. It is sometimes difficult to detect a tumor if you have dense breasts due to more connective tissue as compared to fatty tissue.
According to some studies, breastfeeding can reduce the risk slightly. More studies are required to know the effect of breastfeeding impacts it. Mothers who breastfeed need to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet to meet the demands placed on their bodies. Your plate should feature the five food groups – fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein. Breastfeeding women also should limit their caffeine and alcohol intake.
Inheriting abnormal genes from parents can also lead to breast cancer. Around 10 percent of the breast cancer is caused by abnormal genes. Inheriting the mutated genes can increase the risk of not just breast cancer but also ovarian cancer. Family history can also be a concern, if there is a family history, then there is a chance of developing the disease. The risk of breast cancer doubles if breast cancer is diagnosed in one of your first-degree female relatives like mother and sister.
For women with a family history that is suggestive of a hereditary predisposition for the cancer, a referral for genetic counseling may be appropriate. Identifying such genetic conditions will allow for a more personalized discussion on screening and preventive treatment options. For example, screening in BRCA mutation carriers begins at the age of 25.
Other risk factors include drinking alcohol, hormone replacement therapy, pregnancy and a history of radiation therapy to the chest for various other conditions. The best tool to fight the disease is prevention- which leads to regular examinations (both self and by your doctor). Although there are discussions on how often and the type of testing that you should use, evaluate your situation to find a prevention that works for you.
Being in the high-risk group, it doesn’t mean you will get cancer. There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make, some as simple as dietary changes. You need to consult your doctor to know about screening and ways to reduce the breast cancer risk. It is also important to do monthly self exams and talk to your health care provider regarding and concerns.