Lifestyle-related Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Every woman wants to know what she can do to lower her risk of breast cancer. Some of the factors associated with breast cancer -- your age, and your genetics, for example -- can't be changed. Other factors -- being overweight, lack of exercise, smoking cigarettes, and eating unhealthy food -- can be changed by making choices. By choosing the healthiest lifestyle options possible, you can empower yourself and make sure your breast cancer risk is as low as possible.
Drinking alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Compared with non-drinkers, women who have 1 alcoholic drink a day have a very small increase in risk. Those who have 2 to 5 drinks daily have about 1½ times the risk of women who don’t drink alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption is known to increase the risk of other cancers, too.
Being overweight or obese:-
Being overweight or obese after menopause increases breast cancer risk. Before menopause, your ovaries make most of your estrogen, and fat tissue makes only a small amount. After menopause (when the ovaries stop making estrogen), most of a woman’s estrogen comes from fat tissue. Having more fat tissue after menopause can raise estrogen levels and increase your chance of getting breast cancer. Also, women who are overweight tend to have higher blood insulin levels. Higher insulin levels have been linked to some cancers, including breast cancer.
Still, the link between weight and breast cancer risk is complex. For instance, the risk appears to be increased for women who gained weight as an adult but may not be increased among those who have been overweight since childhood. Also, excess fat in the waist area may affect risk more than the same amount of fat in the hips and thighs. Researchers believe that fat cells in various parts of the body have subtle differences that may explain this.
It is recommended that you stay at a healthy weight throughout your life by balancing your food intake with physical activity and avoiding excessive weight gain.
The evidence is growing that physical activity in the form of exercise reduces breast cancer risk. The main question is how much exercise is needed. In one study from the Women’s Health Initiative, as little as 1¼ to 2½ hours per week of brisk walking reduced a woman’s risk by 18%. Walking 10 hours a week reduced the risk a little more.
To reduce your risk of breast cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week.
Moderate activity is anything that makes you breathe as hard as you do during a brisk walk. During moderate activities, you’ll notice a slight increase in heart rate and breathing. You should be able to talk, but not sing during the activity. Vigorous activities are performed at a higher intensity. They cause an increased heart rate, sweating, and a faster breathing rate. Activities that improve strength and flexibility, such as weight lifting, stretching, or yoga, are also beneficial.
Women who have not had children or who had their first child after age 30 have a slightly higher breast cancer risk overall. Having many pregnancies and becoming pregnant at an early age reduces breast cancer risk overall. Still, the effect of pregnancy is different for different types of breast cancer. For a certain type of breast cancer known as triple-negative, pregnancy seems to increase risk.
Oral contraceptives: Studies have found that women using oral contraceptives (birth control pills) have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer than women who have never used them. Once the pills are stopped, this risk seems to go back to normal over time. Women who stopped using oral contraceptives more than 10 years ago do not appear to have any increased breast cancer risk.
Birth control shot: Depo-Provera is an injectable form of progesterone that’s given once every 3 months as birth control. A few studies have looked at the effect of birth control shots on breast cancer risk. Women currently using birth-control shots seem to have an increase in breast cancer risk, but it appears that there is no increased risk in women 5 years after they stop getting the shots.
When thinking about using hormonal birth control, women should discuss their other risk factors for breast cancer. You can now book an appointment online to meet our Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics specialists by visiting http://bit.ly/OB-GYN
Some studies suggest that breastfeeding may slightly lower breast cancer risk, especially if it’s continued for 1½ to 2 years. But this has been hard to study, especially in countries like the United States, where breastfeeding for this long is uncommon.
The explanation for this possible effect may be that breastfeeding reduces a woman’s total number of lifetime menstrual cycles (the same as starting menstrual periods at a later age or going through early menopause).
With an increase in lifestyle-related risks, The best cure for breast cancer is awareness. Early detection of the disease is the only way fatality can be avoided. Regular check-ups can ensure you stay fit and healthy. Together with regular clinical exams and monthly breast self-examinations, mammograms are a key element in the early diagnosis of breast cancer.
To find out more about our Department of Oncology you can visit http://bit.ly/Muthootoncology. For screening mammography appointments get in touch with us on WhatsApp at 7012223846.