Cancer occurs when mutations take place in genes that regulate cell growth. The mutations let the cells divide and expand in an unconstrained manner. The cancer which develops in breast cells is breast cancer. Every year, about 1.38 million new cases and 458,000 deaths occur from breast cancer (IARC Globocan, 2008). By far it is the most common cancer in women worldwide.
Upon being detected early and with the availability of proper diagnosis and treatment, there is a possibility of breast cancer being cured. The majority of deaths associated with breast cancer occur in low and middle income countries. This is because of lack of awareness regarding the disease and poor health services. So, in order to increase awareness, support and focus attention upon it, October is marked as breast cancer awareness month in countries worldwide, every year.
By making some small changes in personal lifestyle, one might cut short the risk of having breast cancer to a certain extent, even though not completely. Here are five ways to reduce risk of breast cancer:
1. Perform Self Breast Examination:
Many studies suggest that breast self-examination can be helpful in detecting breast cancer early, at a time when it’s more likely to be treated successfully. It is a convenient, no-cost tool that one can use on a regular basis; and upon being combined with periodic physical exams by doctors; it can yield successful results.
Upon finding any lump in the breast during self examination, one should not panic since most of them turn out to be non- cancerous ones. However, one should definitely check in with their doctor. Ultrasound and mammography are typically recommended by doctors to evaluate the lumps in women who are especially over the age of 30.
2. Avoid drinking alcohol
Drinking alcohol has been directly linked with cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, colon and rectum; as well as breast. Breast cancer risk is increased upon being exposed to estrogen for a higher lifetime. Drinking even a small amount of alcohol increases the estrogen level in body, thus further raising the possibility of breast cancer in women. So avoiding or cutting back a little on the amount of alcohol consumption can be a good way to reduce chances of the disease.
3. Check on your weight and be physically active
Even though the linkage between weight and breast cancer risk is complex, being overweight has many far-reaching health consequences, including possibility for certain types of cancer. Obesity increases breast cancer danger, since after menopause, most of woman’s estrogen comes from fat tissue in place of the ovaries.
Regular physical exercise has positive effects on body weight, inflammation, hormones, and energy balance. It is recommended by the American Cancer Society that adults should get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week. A combination of both can also be implemented.
4. Avoid breast implants
Breast cancer through breast implants is associated with a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma which can form in the scar tissue around the implant. Such lymphomas show up as a lump with swelling or pain and collection of fluid. They are more common in implants with rough surfaces rather than smooth surfaces.
While pregnancy and having children is a choice, for those who decide to have kids; it might be useful to know that breastfeeding may slightly lower breast cancer risk. It’s especially better if breastfeeding continues for a year or more. Studies have also found that women who have had their first child after 30 or no child at all; have a slightly higher chance to develop breast cancer.
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There are some risk factors for breast cancer which increases chances of getting the disease and cannot be changed. For instance, the chances of getting breast cancer increases in women aged 55 and older. Also, many breast cancer cases are found to be hereditary; so women who have family history of the disease should be on more alert. Having a first-degree relative with breast cancer almost doubles a woman’s possibility, and two first- degree relative makes it triple.
It is to be noted that although it’s rare, men can get breast cancer too. People need to realize that a possibility of breast cancer in men should not be overlooked since men too have breast tissues that might develop to breast cancer.