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Why Do So Many Women Get Breast Cancer

Myth: Using Underarm Antiperspirant Can Cause Breast Cancerfact: There Is No Evidence Of A Connection Between Underarm Antiperspirant And Breast Cancer But The Safety Of Antiperspirants Is Still Being Studied

Why Are So Many Young Women Getting Breast Cancer?

There have been persistent rumors that underarm antiperspirants, especially those containing aluminum and other chemicals, are absorbed into the lymph nodes and make their way into breast cells, increasing cancer risk. Shaving the underarms was thought to make this worse by creating tiny nicks that allow more of the chemicals to enter the body. Another theory was that antiperspirants, by stopping underarm sweating, can prevent the release of toxic substances from the underarm lymph nodes, also increasing cancer risk.

However, there is no evidence of a link between antiperspirant use and breast cancer. Still, some studies have found that women who use aluminum products under their arms are more likely to have higher concentrations of aluminum in breast tissue.2 If youre concerned about minimizing the use of chemicals under your arms, check out these tips in Are Antiperspirants Safe?

A Unique Set Of Challenges

About 1 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States are in men. In 2019, about 2,700 men are projected to develop breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, compared to 270,000 women. Breast cancer in women is the most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. Measured alone, breast cancer in men would rank behind at least 30 other cancers in the number of yearly diagnoses. Discover more breast cancer statistics.

Risk Factors You Can Change

Weight. Being overweight after menopause increases your odds.

Drinking alcohol.Alcohol is linked to breast cancer. Compared with nondrinkers, women who drink one alcoholic drink a day have a very small increase in risk, and those who are moderate drinkers have about a 20% higher risk.

Hormone replacement therapy . Long-term use of estrogen and progesterone increases the risk of breast cancer. This risk seems to go away if you’ve stopped using them for 5 years or longer.

Being inactive. Your odds go up if you donât exercise.

Reproductive history. Having your first child after age 30 or never having a full-term pregnancy puts you at higher risk. So does not breastfeeding.

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Previous Breast Cancer Or Lump

If you have previously had breast cancer or early non-invasive cancer cell changes in breast ducts, you have a higher risk of developing it again, either in your other breast or in the same breast.

A benign breast lump does not mean you have breast cancer, but certain types of breast lumps may slightly increase your risk of developing cancer.

Some benign changes in your breast tissue, such as cells growing abnormally in ducts , or abnormal cells inside your breast lobes , can make getting breast cancer more likely.

Your Race And Ethnicity

Breast Cancer Screening: Should I Push My Doctor For Tests?

White and Black women have the highest risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic/Latina womens breast cancer rates fall in between two major groupings while American Indian and Alaska Native women are on the lowest end of risk.

While white women are more likely to develop breast cancer than Black women overall, they tend to be diagnosed at an older age . Black women have the highest breast cancer rates among women under age 40. Black women make up a higher percentage of triple-negative breast cancer cases.

What to do: If your race or ethnicity places you at higher risk, make sure you follow all screening recommendations to improve your chances of catching cancer early.

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Wasp Dung Was Used As A Treatment For Breast Cancer

Insect faeces featured heavily in ancient remedies for breast cancer. An Egyptian papyrus recommended a mixture of cows brain and wasp dung to be applied to breast tumours for four days. Insect faeces were still considered one of the most advanced treatments for breast cancer up until the Middle Ages. Thankfully, treatments have advanced a great deal since then.

Fact 4

Myth: Consuming Too Much Sugar Causes Breast Cancerfact: There Is No Evidence That Sugar In The Diet Causes Breast Cancer

Not just with breast cancer but with all types of cancer, theres a common myth that sugar can feed the cancer and speed up its growth. All cells, whether cancerous or healthy, use the sugar in the blood as fuel. While its true that cancer cells consume sugar more quickly than normal cells, there isnt any evidence that excessive sugar consumption causes cancer.

There was a study in mice that suggested excess sugar consumption might raise the risk of breast cancer,3 but more research is needed to establish any link in animals as well as in people.

That said, we do know that eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain, and being overweight is an established risk factor for breast cancer. In addition, some studies have linked diabetes with a higher risk of breast cancer especially more aggressive, later-stage cancers. Researchers arent sure if the link is due to that fact that people with diabetes tend to be overweight, or that they have higher blood sugar levels.

For health reasons, its always a good idea to cut down on desserts, candy, cakes, sweetened beverages, and processed foods that contain sugar. Reading labels is important, as many foods can have hidden added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup.

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Risks For Breast Cancer

A risk factor is something that increases the risk of developing cancer. It could be a behaviour, substance or condition. Most cancers are the result of many risk factors. But sometimes breast cancer develops in women who dont have any of the risk factors described below.

Most breast cancers occur in women. The main reason women develop breast cancer is because their breast cells are exposed to the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones, especially estrogen, are linked with breast cancer and encourage the growth of some breast cancers.

Breast cancer is more common in high-income, developed countries such as Canada, the United States and some European countries. The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. Breast cancer mostly occurs in women between 50 and 69 years of age.

Breast Cancer In Young Women

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Breast cancer basics

Breast cancer is more common in older adults. At age 30, a womans risk of getting the disease is 1 in 28 chance of receiving this diagnosis. Although the odds are much lower for younger women, they can and do get breast cancer. More than 13,000 women ages 40 or under will be diagnosed this year.

When breast cancer is diagnosed at a young age, its more likely to be aggressive and to spread quickly. Young women may not get a diagnosis right away because many organizations dont recommend regular mammogram screenings until age 45 or 50. Its also harder for doctors to find breast cancer in young women than in older women because younger women have denser breasts. This means that they have more breast tissue than fat tissue. Tumors dont show up as well on mammograms in women with dense breasts.

Read on to learn about some of the unique challenges young women with breast cancer face and what to do if youve been diagnosed.

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Why Do Nuns Have A High Rate Of Breast Cancer

QUESTION: Why do nuns have a high rate of breast cancer?

ANSWER: We have known for hundreds of years that nuns have a higher incidence of breast cancer when compared to other groups of women. The link with reproduction was long suspected but not really proved until a British study evaluated data from more than 150,000 women in 30 countries. The connection is, in fact, hormonal and related to fluctuations in estrogen levels during pregnancy and breastfeeding. For a long time doctors wondered why it was only breast and not cervical cancer, which is rare in nuns. The answer, now obvious, is that cervical cancer is not the result of hormonal fluctuation. Rather, it develops from the sexually transmitted human papillomaviruses .

The most realistic approach to reducing breast cancer for all women is to focus on early detection and treatment and to be aware of the genetic and dietary risk factors that contribute to this disease.

QUESTION: Why do nuns have a high rate of breast cancer?

The most realistic approach to reducing breast cancer for all women is to focus on early detection and treatment and to be aware of the genetic and dietary risk factors that contribute to this disease.

What Are The Risk Factors For Breast Cancer

Being a woman and getting older are the main risk factors for breast cancer.

Studies have shown that your risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors. The main factors that influence your risk include being a woman and getting older. Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older.

Some women will get breast cancer even without any other risk factors that they know of. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get the disease, and not all risk factors have the same effect. Most women have some risk factors, but most women do not get breast cancer. If you have breast cancer risk factors, talk with your doctor about ways you can lower your risk and about screening for breast cancer.

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Fact : Research Studies Document A Compounding Of Breast Cancer Risk Factors For Girls And Young Women That Underscores The Duty For Full And Accurate Informed Consent

According to breast cancer surgeon, Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, a girl or young woman who undergoes an abortion, increases her risk of breast cancer in four ways: he creates in her breasts more places for cancers to start, which is an independent effect she loses the protective effect that a full-term pregnancy would have afforded her she increases the risk of premature delivery of future pregnancies and she lengthens her susceptibility window .

Not unlike cardiac risk factors , having more than one risk factor compounds the risk of breast cancer via synergistic mechanisms. In the previously noted investigation of triple-negative breast cancer, women 40 years of age have an elevated risk that is 3.5-fold, if they began using OCs at age 22 years or later . Those women who began OCs before age 18 years, nearly doubled this risk . In fact, this multivariate analysis found that more recent OC usage and youthful usage were the strongest predictors of breast cancer, even surpassing a positive family history.

In 1987, the Seattle-Puget Sound Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results cancer registry data for women aged 2544 years revealed that the incidence of breast cancer had increased by 22 percent between the time periods 19741977 and 19821984. This research team, which included Daling, reported an annual increase of 2.5 percent .

Black Women Are Underrepresented In Clinical Trials Often For Reasons Beyond Their Control

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Like many other things, you have to be in the room where it happens to enact or experience change. In the case of breast cancer, that room can include clinical trials where new and innovative treatments are being offered. Unfortunately, for a myriad of reasons, including mistrust of the medical community based on both past and present experiences, lack of access, and simply not being diagnosed, Black women often dont participate in clinical trials.

In fact, from 1990 to 2010, between 80% and 90% of people with breast cancer who enrolled in practice-changing clinical trials were non-Hispanic white people5. This underrepresentation can hamper the proper development of treatments and understanding of their potential efficacy for Black women, who, as we mentioned, are already susceptible to breast cancers that are difficult to treat.

When therapies in these studies significantly improve outcomes and survival, the first patients to benefit are often not minorities, says Dr. Torres. When these trials lead to changes in standard practice, the uptake of these treatments into everyday practice may be slow given differences in provider knowledge and difficulties with insurance coverage often encountered with new and expensive, but highly effective, therapies.

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Being Overweight Or Obese

Overweight and obese women have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer compared to women who maintain a healthy weight, especially after menopause. Being overweight also can increase the risk of the breast cancer coming back in women who have had the disease.

Fat tissue is the bodys main source of oestrogen after menopause, when the ovaries stop producing it. Having more fat tissue means having higher oestrogen levels, which may increase breast cancer risk.

Myth: Carrying Your Cell Phone In Your Bra Can Cause Breast Cancerfact: There Is No Evidence Of A Connection Between Cell Phones And Breast Cancer But The Safety Of Cell Phones Is Still Being Studied

Media reports have raised concerns that carrying a cell phone in your bra might increase breast cancer risk. There have been some cases of younger women developing breast cancer after habitually carrying their cell phones in their bras. In 2013, the Dr. Oz Show further fueled these concerns by warning women never to carry their cell phones in their bras.

The research simply isnt there to support this claim, though. To date, most studies have focused on whether the radiofrequency radiation given off by cell phones can increase the risk of brain tumors. This research hasnt found a link, but the issue is still being studied.

Still, cell phone manufacturers often do recommend keeping your device away from your body as much as possible. Although there is no proven breast cancer link, you may wish to avoid wearing your cellphone in your bra or chest pocket until more research is available.

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Fact : Breast Cancer Occurrence Decreased Dramatically After Many Us Women Stopped Combined Hormone Replacement Therapy In 2002

The history of HRT is an ongoing and century-long story of efforts to treat menopausal symptoms including vasomotor instability. From the beginning of these efforts, however, there has also been a sub-text of preserving feminine youthfulness and attractiveness. This section summarizes the key historical points in the medical efforts to treat this condition, as well as the growth in the understanding of the associated risks. Menopause was first recognized in the medical literature in the late 1800s, but the twentieth century ushered in a quest for treatment to maintain youthfulness, sexual health, and vitality in women . Unfortunately, the history of HRT includes grandiose claims, now disproved, and multiple, now substantiated harms to women, including breast cancer.

  • Ovarian pig extracts promoted as a defense against agingCzechoslovakian physician Arnold Lorand published his 1910 classic, Old Age Deferred, and declared, The years of the climacteric are the most troublesome in married life not only for the wife but also in almost equal degree for the husband, who must show the greatest forbearance. Lorand claimed that extracts from pigs’ ovaries could put off old age for a score of years, or at least mitigate its effects when it has asserted itself with all its terrors .
  • How Has The Risk Of Being Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Changed In Recent Years

    One huge reason why so many black women get breast cancer!

    For a woman born in the 1970s in the United States, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, based on breast cancer statistics from that time, was just under 10% .

    The last five annual SEER Cancer Statistics Review reports show the following estimates of lifetime risk of breast cancer, all very close to a lifetime risk of 1 in 8:

    • 12.83%, based on statistics for 2014 through 2016
    • 12.44%, based on statistics for 2013 through 2015
    • 12.41%, based on statistics for 2012 through 2014
    • 12.43%, based on statistics for 2011 through 2013
    • 12.32%, based on statistics for 2010 through 2012

    SEER statisticians expect some variability from year to year. Slight changes may be explained by a variety of factors, including minor changes in risk factor levels in the population, slight changes in breast cancer screening rates, or just random variability inherent in the data.

    Selected Reference
  • Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al. . SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 19752017, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, , based on November 2019 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2020.

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    • Reviewed:December 16, 2020

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    Is There A Relationship Between Pregnancy And Breast Cancer Risk

    Studies have shown that a womans risk of developing breast cancer is related to her exposure to hormones that are produced by her ovaries . Reproductive factors that increase the duration and/or levels of exposure to ovarian hormones, which stimulate cell growth, have been associated with an increase in breast cancer risk. These factors include early onset of menstruation, late onset of menopause, and factors that may allow breasttissue to be exposed to high levels of hormones for longer periods of time, such as later age at first pregnancy and never having given birth.

    Conversely, pregnancy and breastfeeding, which both reduce a womans lifetime number of menstrual cycles, and thus her cumulative exposure to endogenous hormones , are associated with a decrease in breast cancer risk. In addition, pregnancy and breastfeeding have direct effects on breast cells, causing them to differentiate, or mature, so they can produce milk. Some researchers hypothesize that these differentiated cells are more resistant to becoming transformed into cancer cells than cells that have not undergone differentiation .


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