Breast cancer is a terrifying diagnosis for any woman. The first thing you want to know is how likely the disease will return after treatment and how you can prevent other risks factors. This blog post will explore how your family history affects your risk of getting breast cancer, as well as what lifestyle factors may increase or reduce your chances of developing the disease.
1. Being a Woman
Being a woman is one of the most significant risk factors for Breast Cancer. However, women have developed breast cancer in some cases even though they do not have BRCA mutations or any family history of the disease. These can be attributed to something called sporadic cancers, those with no apparent cause at all. This type accounts for up to thirty percent of all diagnoses each year. It is responsible for about fifteen percent of death rates because more than half tend to go undetected until late stages when surgical intervention may offer little benefit in terms of survival chances. For that reason, you have to look out for breast cancer symptoms like the shape or size of your breasts, discharge from the nipples even if it is clear, and redness or swelling on or around the breast tissue. If you notice anything that concerns you, please do not hesitate to speak with your doctor about it as soon as possible.
Estrogen is a hormone that helps regulate the menstrual cycle. It also stimulates breast cell growth, and some tumors in the breast are sensitive to estrogen. Tumors can grow faster when estrogen levels are high. Breast cancer patients who take drugs to block estrogen called aromatase inhibitors have a lower risk of cancer coming back than those who don’t take these drugs.
There are many different ways to reduce your exposure to estrogen. You can avoid plastics that contain BPA, eat organic foods whenever possible, and use natural cleaners and beauty products. There are also medications available that can help reduce your body’s estrogen production.
3. Eary Age First Menstruation
Women who begin menstruating at an early age are more likely to get breast cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that women whose periods started when they were 12 years old have six times the risk of developing breast cancer by reaching menopause, compared with women whose first period began when they were 14 or older. It is one of many reasons breastfeeding may reduce a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer later in life because it reduces her exposure to estrogen over time. Breastfeeding has also been found to prevent recurrence in some cases, but only if you nurse exclusively, meaning no bottles and no solid food rather than pumping milk between feeds.
4. Late Menopause
Women who go through menopause later in life over the age of 55 have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than women whose periods stop earlier.
Older ovaries may still produce small amounts of estrogen, which can stimulate cancer cells fueled by estrogen. It doesn’t mean every woman over 50 should start hormone replacement therapy or get her ovaries removed; it means you need to talk with your doctor about what risks and benefits these treatments might offer, given your specific situation.
5. Family History
If you have a family history of breast cancer, your risk for developing the disease goes up exponentially. BRCA mutations account for about five to ten percent of all breast cancer cases, but they are also responsible for around seventy percent of hereditary breast cancers. If your mother or sister has had Breast Cancer at any point in their life, you are much more likely to develop it, too, regardless of your age.
For this reason, genetic counseling is essential if you know that breast cancer runs in your family. Not only can they test you for the BRCA mutation, but they can help put into place preventative measures to lower your risk. Some things you may be able to include monthly breast self-exams, getting yearly mammograms and MRI screenings, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Aside from your family history and personal medical history, other lifestyle factors can increase your risk of developing Breast Cancer. They include carrying excess weight, drinking alcohol excessively, and eating meats cooked at high temperatures or charred outside.
If you are obese, especially if you have a waist size larger than 35 inches for women over 50 years old, it could elevate your breast cancer risk by as much as 40 percent compared to someone who is not overweight. You need to take steps toward losing weight through dieting and exercise to lower this risk since obesity also raises other stakes, such as heart disease, which carries its list of health concerns including metabolic syndrome, diabetes type II, and stroke.
According to studies, excessive amounts of alcohol increase several cancers, including breast cancer. Women who drink two alcoholic drinks per day have a 15 percent higher risk of developing Breast Cancer than non-drinkers, and those who drink four or more drinks a day have a 51 percent greater risk.
There are many ways to reduce your alcohol intake if you are drinking more than is healthy for you, such as substituting wine with sparkling water at social events, setting limits for yourself and sticking to them, and avoiding buying liquor or beer in bulk.
Eating meat cooked at high temperatures has been linked with an increased risk of various types of cancer, including Breast Cancer. You can reduce your exposure to these harmful chemicals by avoiding well-done meats, trimming off any charred bits before eating and using a marinade or sauce on your grilled foods.
There are many risk factors for Breast Cancer that every woman should be aware of, even if they do not have a family history of the disease. Some of these include smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol in excess, being obese, and simply being a woman. However, by knowing what these risks are and taking steps to lower them, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing Breast Cancer. That includes getting yearly mammograms and self-exams, being breast aware year-round, and practicing healthy lifestyle habits.