Breast Cancer: Risk Factors And Prevention
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ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing breast cancer. Use the menu to see other pages.
A risk factor is anything that increases a persons chance of developing cancer. Although risk factors often influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer. Some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do. Knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.
Most breast cancers are sporadic, meaning they develop from damage to a persons genes that occurs by chance after they are born. There is no risk of the person passing this gene on to their children, as the underlying cause of sporadic breast cancer is environmental factors.
Inherited breast cancers are less common, making up 5% to 10% of cancers. Inherited breast cancer occurs when gene changes called mutations are passed down within a family from parent to child. Many of those mutations are in tumor suppressor genes, such as BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB2. These genes normally keep cells from growing out of control and turning into cancer. But when these cells have a mutation, it can cause them to grow out of control.
The following factors may raise a womans risk of developing breast cancer:
What Can I Do To Reduce My Risk Of Breast Cancer
Getting regular exercise and keeping a healthy weight can help lower your breast cancer risk.
Many factors over the course of a lifetime can influence your breast cancer risk. You cant change some factors, such as getting older or your family history, but you can help lower your risk of breast cancer by taking care of your health in the following ways
- Exercise regularly.
- Dont drink alcohol, or limit alcoholic drinks.
- If you are taking, or have been told to take, hormone replacement therapyexternal icon or oral contraceptivesexternal icon , ask your doctor about the risks and find out if it is right for you.
- Breastfeed your children, if possible.
- If you have a family history of breast cancer or inherited changes in your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, talk to your doctor about other ways to lower your risk.
Staying healthy throughout your life will lower your risk of developing cancer, and improve your chances of surviving cancer if it occurs.
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Following A Healthy Diet
People who follow a healthy diet are less likely to develop obesity, and as a result, this leads to a lower rate of cancer and heart disease. We also recommend our patients consume more vegetables and fruits and limit their carbohydrate intake to prevent heart disease.
In addition, you do not have to follow a strict diet, but reducing the portions of your food can help provide long-term weight loss.
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Brca1 And Brca2 Genes
Having a fault in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes is associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are considered rare to very rare. About 1 in 400 to 1 in 800 people have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. Over her lifetime, a woman who carries a mutation in one of these genes has about 70% chance of developing breast cancer. However, not everyone who has a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene will develop cancer. Only about 5-10% of female breast cancers can be explained by inherited mutations. If you are concerned that you may have an increased risk of breast cancer, please speak with your GP or local family cancer clinic, who will help you assess your risk and refer you for further genetic testing if needed.
Understanding Your Risk Of Breast Cancer
Several breast cancer risk assessment tools have been developed to help a woman estimate her chance of developing breast cancer. The best studied is the Gail model, which is available on the National Cancer Institutes website at www.cancer.gov/bcrisktool. After you enter some personal and family information, including race/ethnicity, the tool provides you with a 5-year and lifetime estimate of the risk of developing invasive breast cancer. Because it only asks for information about breast cancer in first-degree family members and does not include their ages at diagnosis, the tool works best at estimating risk in women without a strong inherited breast cancer risk. For some women, other ways of determining the risk of breast cancer may work better. For example, women with a strong family history of breast cancer risk should consider talking to a genetic counselor.
It is important to talk with your doctor about how to estimate your personal risk of breast cancer and to discuss risk-reducing or prevention options .
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Know Your Options If You Are At A High Risk For Breast Cancer
Talking to your doctor is the best way to understand your risk factors for breast cancer. If you have a higher risk of getting breast cancer, there are options that can help with early detection and prevention. However, its important to remember that none of these choices are guaranteed to completely eliminate your chance of breast cancer.
Burn Those Fats And Keep Your Body Active With Exercise
Exercise stands as an activity with an all-around advantage. Its more like using a single stone to kill multiple birds as it helps in boosting the brains functionality and prevents heart diseases and cancer, amongst others. It helps in protecting the body against breast cancer in many ways
- It helps in controlling the overall body weight
- Exercise also alters estrogen metabolism.
When we talk about exercise here, we arent referring to muscle-boosting training or training to be muscular like hulk. By just taking a brisk walk, youre certainly good to go. Studies carried out by the Womens Health Initiative found that women who exercise for 1hour, 25 minutes to 2.5 hours, have an 18% less risk of breast cancer than those who were inactive.
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Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer
Almost everyone knows someone touched by breast cancer, as it is the most common type of cancer among women outside of certain skin cancers. So many factors can contribute to developing breast cancer, including age and family history. Some things you cant control or change, but there are some lifestyle changes that may be helpful in decreasing your chances of getting breast cancer. There is no guaranteed way to prevent breast cancer, but there are some ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
1. Limit or Avoid Alcohol
Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of breast cancer. Studies have shown that even low levels of alcohol are linked to an increase in cancer risk. If you do drink, limit your intake to one drink per day. A drink is defined as:
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of hard liquor
2. Discuss the Risks and Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy is often a beneficial treatment for women, especially during menopause. However, this treatment should be closely monitored by a doctor and limited when possible due to its link to increased breast cancer risk. Talk to your doctor about the risks of HRT for you and see if there are non-hormonal treatments that may help with symptoms.
Using hormonal birth control has also been shown to increase breast cancer risk, but only very slightly. Though it is a small risk, your doctor can talk to you about the risks vs benefits of using this type of birth control in your specific case.
6. Stop Smoking
What Does Not Cause Breast Cancer
Just as important as understanding what factors increase the risk of developing breast cancer, is to understand what does not. Despite certain media coverage, the Susan G. Komen® organization reports that in observational and randomized controlled studies there is no conclusive, scientific basis for any of these substances or experiences as catalysts for breast cancer:
- Electromagnetic fields from utility wires, electric blankets, etc.
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Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
If youre drinking for your health, think again. What youre doing is raising your risk of seven cancers, including liver cancer. One drink a day increases your chances of developing breast cancer specifically by as much as 10 per cent. Two drinks and you double it by up to 20 per cent.
A lot of women are shocked by that, says Dr. Julian Kim, a radiation oncologist with CancerCare Manitoba in Winnipeg. They drink a glass of wine to relax, and they think theyre getting away scot-free. Alcohol can increase levels of estrogen, which, like other hormones, delivers messages that control cell division in the body. Increased lifetime estrogen exposure is associated with breast cancer. Thats why getting your first period before age 12 and reaching menopause after 55 are risk factors.
Plus, when we metabolize alcohol, its converted into acetaldehyde, a toxic by-product that can damage DNA and interfere with our ability to repair it. There is no safe amount women can drink without increasing their risk of breast cancer, says Brown. However, the women who drink the most alcohol are at the greatest risk.
When it comes to another common vice, smoking, the news is surprising. Although smoking-related illnesses cause about 100 deaths a day in Canada and may be implicated in some breast cancers, smoking is not as strong a risk factor for breast cancer as it is for other cancers, notes Shawn Chirrey, senior manager of health promotion for the Canadian Cancer Society in Toronto.
Are There Any Vitamins And Supplements That Prevent Breast Cancer
Dr. Thompson says that there are things that we can do to reduce our risk of developing breast cancer, but we cant prevent it entirely.
In regard to vitamins and supplements, there is no scientific evidence to support taking any specific vitamins or supplements in order to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. For the most part, there is no harm in taking vitamins and supplements, but none of the studies that have been done have found a real impact on breast cancer risk.
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Find Out Your Family History
Women with a strong family history of cancer can take special steps to protect themselves, so its important for women to know their family history. You may be at high risk of breast cancer if you have a mother or sister who developed breast or ovarian cancer or if you have multiplefamily members who developed breast, ovarian or prostate cancer. A doctor or genetic counselor can help you understand your family history of the disease.
Breast Cancer Is A Disease In Which Malignant Cells Form In The Tissues Of The Breast
The breast is made up of lobes and ducts. Each breast has 15 to 20 sections called lobes, which have many smaller sections called lobules. Lobules end in dozens of tiny bulbs that can make milk. The lobes, lobules, and bulbs are linked by thin tubes called ducts.
Each breast also has blood vessels and lymph vessels. The lymph vessels carry an almost colorless, watery fluid called lymph. Lymph vessels carry lymph between lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures that filter lymph and store white blood cells that help fightinfection and disease. Groups of lymph nodes are found near the breast in theaxilla , above thecollarbone, and in the chest.
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Snack On Carrots Instead Of Chips
Obesity is a common breast cancer risk, and eating a healthy diet is just as important as exercise if you need to lose weight. Plan your meals and snacks to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean sources of protein, such as chicken, fish and beans.
Of course, sometimes it takes more than dietary changes and exercising to lose weight. If you struggle with weight loss, our physician-supervised weight loss program can help you achieve your goal weight.
Does My Birth Control Matter
Many people who menstruate take birth control at some point during their lives and may wonder if and how this impacts their risk of breast cancer. Studies have shown that hormonal birth control may slightly increase risk of breast cancer while taking it. This risk decreases after stopping hormonal birth control, and it appears theres no increased risk 10 years after stopping it. If youre worried about high risk of breast cancer, consider talking with your provider about alternatives such as a non-hormonal copper IUD.
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Tips To Prevent Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer for Canadian women and it is the second cause of death. In 2020, 27,400 women had breast cancer and 18% of them died. It is estimated that about 1 in 8 Canadian women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and 1 in 33 will die from it. Read more on the Canadian Cancer Society website: Breast Cancer
There are ways to prevent developing breast cancer. Here is what you should do:
- Exercise is your best medicine. Exercising daily for at least 30 minutes can reduce your risk of breast cancer by between 40-60%.
- Eat plants. Eat a plant-based diet and add more raw vegetables, legumes, and lentils to your meals. Get free recipes here.
- Let it shine. Take between 1000-2000 IU vitamin D per day. It is produced by your body from the sunlight but in fall and winter, when it is grey outside, you need to replenish that vitamin D with supplements.
- Read the other benefits of drinking green tea here.
Foods That Prevent Breast Cancer
The food you eat can be either the safest and the most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison. Ann Wigmore
This quote stands especially true in todays scenario, where food safety is a critical issue. We live in an instant world where everything is accessible in a matter of minutes. Right from the 2-minute noodle pack to the readymade pre-cooked meal packets, we have a variety of quick-fix food products to savor our taste buds. Healthy eating has taken a backseat because of our stressful and fast-paced lifestyles.
In this article, we will discuss
- The top 15foods to prevent breast cancer.
- The foods you need to avoid.
- Importance of healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle.
You are what you eat. The way to a healthy lifestyle starts in your kitchen. Being healthy is not only about having a good body with beautiful skin and hair. Being Healthy is all about being disease free throughout your life. One should pay attention to what and how we cook and eat.
A well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in added sugar and trans-fats can improve your health and reduce the risk of breast cancer.
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Limit Your Alcohol Use
Alcohol consumption is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer , and the risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Compared with non-drinkers, women who consume one alcoholic drink a day have a very small increase in breast cancer risk, while women who have two to five drinks daily have about one-and-a-half times the risk of nondrinkers. If you are going to drink, limit your intake to one drink per day.
Book Your Appointment Today
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women, and we cant prevent it. However, there are preventive measures that patients cant implement in their life to reduce the risk of developing cancer cells.
Breast screening can detect breast cancer in its early stages, and lifestyle modifications can also be beneficial as they can reduce the risk of other diseases.
If you are concerned about your health or want to learn more about breast cancer prevention, book your appointment today.
We look forward to meeting you.
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Ten Lifestyle Changes That May Help
All breast cancer survivors live with the concern about a recurrence or a new cancer. This fear is usually the biggest worry of all. Many women feel that their body has betrayed them and therefore it takes time to trust it again.
Learning how to cope with fears of recurrence is important. Though your body has gone through many changes as a result of a cancer diagnosis and treatment, most women become healthy, strong and optimistic once again.