Research has shown that one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer at some time in their lives, a frightening statistic for anyone who worries about this widespread form of cancer. While some risk factors cannot be controlled such as genetics and the occurrence of cancer in your family tree, there are some other factors that you do have the power to control. Knowing the causes and risk factors that lead to the development of breast cancer is a must-read for all women.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is defined as a type of cancer that has spread to large parts of the breast or the nearby lymph nodes but not to distant organs. Therefore, breast cancer is an uncontrolled growth of breast cells. The term “breast cancer” is then synonymous to the malignant tumor that has evolved from cells in the breast.
Causes of Breast Cancer
Most studies cannot point out the exact causes of breast cancer, but certain risk factors are highlighted that increase a person’s chance of getting the disease. Estimates confirm that about ten percent of breast cancer cases run in the family.
In fact, certain changes in DNA can cause normal breast cells to become cancerous, and some inherited DNA changes can increase the risk of developing cancer and cause the cancers that run in some families.
Besides BRCA1 and BRCA2, other mutated genes may make it easier for a person to get breast cancer. As scientists know some of these genes, they are working to identify others.
Signs of Breast Cancer
The most common evidence of breast cancer can be easily associated with the breast lumps, nipple changes, cysts and breast pain. However, having these breast cancer symptoms do not always mean that you are developing breast cancer, as they could easily mean something else. It is recommended to see your doctor right away if you are worried that you might be developing breast cancer.
It is important to note that there can never be any guarantee that you will never develop the effects of breast cancer in future. However, research has shown that certain changes in lifestyle can certainly lower the risk of breast cancer.
Prevention of Breast Cancer
To prevent new cancers from starting, scientists look at risk and protective factors. While there are certain risk factors like genetics you cannot change, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to aid in breast cancer prevention.
Based on research, alcoholic beverages are believed to trigger cancer cell development at a higher rate. How much is too much? Based on reviews, ladies who consume 2 to 5 drinks every day could be 1.5 times more susceptible to cancer compared to women who do not drink alcohol.
Therefore, some changes can be adopted to help you reduce your chances of getting breast cancer which may include:
Stopping smoking: Smoking is mostly associated with increased risk of developing lung cancer. However, women who smoke from a young age are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Given that smoking could increase your risk of developing breast cancer, you now have a reason to quit for good.
Eating a low-fat diet: Eating a healthy balanced diet is important for good health on so many levels, one of them being a lowered risk of breast cancer.
Self-testing regularly: It is important to check your breasts regularly; preferably once a month. This means you will be able to detect any breast lumps at an early stage, meaning that your doctors can start treating you sooner.
Getting more exercise: Studies have that a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer can be reduced by up to 20 percent if she puts in two hours worth of exercise a week. This does not mean that you have to drag yourself to the gym every day, even if you hate going to the gym. If the gym does not work for you, choose exercises you enjoy the most. Walk every day for 30 minutes or attend a yoga class with friends.
Starting a family sooner: Having a baby is no guarantee that you will not develop breast cancer, but research supports the idea that women who have children in their mid-thirties or later are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
Researching your family tree: If an immediate female family member such as your mother or sister has or had the breast cancer, your risk of developing it is much higher than the average women. Therefore you can ask your doctor to help you understand how great is your risk of getting the disease.
Cutting back on drinking alcohol: If you consume on average two to five alcoholic beverages a day, research indicates that your risk of developing breast cancer is more than double.
Upon hearing a diagnosis of breast cancer, many women feel devastated, confused, and alone. Therefore it is crucial to be empowered by all good resources which may be available around you to help better understand the disease, as well as the relevant methods of treatment.