It is known that breast cancer is one of the major cancers affecting more women than men. Although improvement in technology and medical research have decreased the death rate arising out of breast cancer in women, it is still a concerning cause for almost one in thirty-three American women.
Anyone can suffer from breast cancer. But there are some factors which can highlight a woman’s probability of getting affected by breast cancer. Many factors may be beyond your control. The key lies in early diagnosis, prompt treatment and prevention.
How to Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer
Gender and Race
Being a female puts you at a greater risk of having breast cancer. Men also suffer from the cancer but very less in number compared to women. There is a possible explanation for this although it needs evidential testament.
Both men and women have breast cells. Women have more breast cells than men; their breast cells are regularly exposed to growth-promoting effects of the female hormones and this could be the possible reason behind their suffering from breast cancer more frequently.
Besides being a female, being a White (Caucasian) woman can slightly increase the chance of getting breast cancer. An Asian, American Indian and Hispanic woman is at a decreased risk of getting the cancer than a White woman.
With age, women’s probability of acquiring breast cancer increases. Most breast cancers are diagnosed over the age of 50. It is difficult to diagnose breast cancer in younger women (under 40 years) as against older women for the fact that their breast tissue is generally denser than those in older women.
Late diagnosis and treatment often leads to advancement of the cancer. Breast cancer can occur in younger women (below 40 years of age), although the proportion is small (about 7% of breast cancer cases in America). Nonetheless, the cancer can occur at any age, signifying the need for being aware of the condition by women of every age group.
About 10% of the cancers are linked to changes in some genes – BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 being the most common ones among other genes. Having these genes can raise the probability of suffering from breast cancer in life.
A family history of breast cancer also increases the risk. Irrespective of the parental side of the family being affected, the presence of breast cancer in a close blood relative indicates to you to be extra cautious of the condition and perform frequent checkups.
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Some treatment procedures can lead to the occurrence of breast cancer in women. For example, a previous abnormal breast biopsy can be associated with a risk of developing breast cancer. Having a radiation treatment in the chest area of the body earlier in life also puts a woman at a greater stance of getting the cancer.
Extended use of menopausal hormone therapy is another factor which increases the probability of breast cancer. The combined usage of estrogen and progestin menopausal hormone therapy (for more than 5 years) can raise the possibility of breast cancer.
Based on studies, it has been found that if a woman consumes DES (diethylstilbestrol) during her pregnancy to reduce the possibility of losing her baby, she can put herself at a greater risk of suffering from breast cancer.
Structure and Physiological Outcomes
Women who start menstruating early in life (before turning 12) or undergo menopause after reaching 55 years of age have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer. Additionally, women who have their first pregnancy after 30 years of age, or those who could not have a full-term pregnancy, also run the risk of having breast cancer.
Studies show that among postmenopausal women (who do not implement menopausal hormone therapy), the chance of getting breast cancer is more in overweight or obese women than their healthy counterparts.
Furthermore, cancer in one breast also raises the chances of getting a new cancer in the second breast, or even in some other part of the first breast itself (if breast tissue remains).
The mammographic breast density is also an indicator of breast cancer. In a woman, the milk-producing (glandular) and connective tissue of the breast are mammographically dense and appear white on a mammogram.
On the other hand, the fatty tissue of the breast is not dense, thereby appearing dark. A higher percentage of dense breast tissue is a signal for higher risk of breast cancer compared to little or less dense breast tissue.
Recent studies have highlighted the significance of lifestyle in having or not having breast cancer. Physically active women and non-smokers have been found to have a reduced possibility of suffering from breast cancer.
Alcohol intake, weight gain after menopause and exposure to radiation (during CT scans, etc.) can increase the incidence of breast cancer.
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