Breast Cancer Facts and Factors

breast-cancer-awareness-625km100413The month of October and the color pink has become a national symbol of survival and perseverance. The 10th month of every year gives new hope to anyone that has been affected by breast cancer. In 1982, the Susan G. Komen was initiated and brought the attention needed on breast cancer research and treatment.

Take a look at the staggering statistics on breast cancer ( Source: National Breast Cancer 2014):

  1. 1/8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer.
  2. Breast cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death in women.
  3. An estimated 220,000 women in the US will be diagnosed and more than 40,000 will die.
  4. An estimated 2,150 men in the US will be diagnosed and approximately 410 will die.

Despite the advancements in breast cancer treatment, the cause is yet to be identified. A large, long-term study funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is now being done to help find the causes of breast cancer. Known as the Sister Study, it has enrolled 50,000 women who have sisters with breast cancer. This study will follow these women for at least 10 years and collect information about genes, lifestyle, and environmental factors that may cause breast cancer.

What are risk factors that increase your risk of developing breast cancer?

  • Genetic s-Although this is something out of your control, about 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary. The most common cause of hereditary breast cancer is an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 andBRCA2 genes. These genes help prevent cancer by making proteins that keep the cells from growing abnormally. B RCA1 mutations on average have a 55 to 65% for developing breast cancer. BRCA2 mutations the risk is around 45%.
  • Family history of breast cancer-Having one first-degree relative with breast cancer doubles a woman’s risk. Over 85% women who get breast cancer do not have a family history of this disease.
  • Dense breast tissue.
  • Previous chest radiation-The risk of developing breast cancer from chest radiation is highest if the radiation was given during adolescence, when the breasts were still developing. Radiation treatment after age 40 does not seem to increase breast cancer risk.
  • Alcohol use-The use of alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Women who consume 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 .Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing several other types of cancer.
  • Obesity-During and after menopause, most of a woman’s estrogen comes from fat tissue. Having more fat tissue after menopause can increase your chance of getting breast cancer by raising estrogen levels. Obesity also increases insulin levels which have been linked to breast cancer.
  • Physical inactivity- One study from the Women’s Health Initiative, as little as 1.25 to 2.5 hours per week of brisk walking reduced a woman’s risk by 18%. Walking 10 hours a week reduced the risk a little more.
  • Night work-Studies have suggested that women who work at night have an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers are continuing to investigate the cause. It is believed to be related to changes in melatonin production.

As we are confronted with the potential risk factors, we can be proactive to control what we can. How can we empower ourselves against the war against breast cancer?

  1. Exercise. This is a recurring theme over and over again. Do it!
  1. Eat clean. Our food industry has poisoned the very energy source we use to live. Read labels, eat natural and avoid processed foods as much as possible.
  1. Sleep. You cannot get by on few hours a night. It will eventually catch up to you.
  1. Meditate. The study of neuroscience on the psyche has revealed remarkable improvements in neurotransmitters of the brain. The beneficial rise of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine cause a cortisol lowering effect on the body, thus decreasing inflammation of the cells and decreasing cellular mutation.
  2. Get screened. American Cancer Society recommends “women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. Women in their 20’s should be proactive with self-breast exams. Women at high risk for breast cancer based on certain factors should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. If MRI is used, it should be in addition to, not instead of, a screening mammogram. This is because while an MRI is a more sensitive test (it’s more likely to detect cancer than a mammogram), it may still miss some cancers that a mammogram would detect. .For most women at high risk, screening with MRI and mammograms should begin at age 30 years and continue for as long as a woman is in good health.”

What is new in breast cancer research? As breast cancer awareness spans across all seven continents, women and men are becoming a catalyst to enhancing new age technology. Early detection of breast cancer using imaging, genetic testing, understanding cause-effect relationship has catapulted what was once a grim diagnosis into a field of cure and hope.

Cancer has taken over the very existence of our being, but through advocacy, awareness and action, we can ALL “Stand Up 2 Cancer.”

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact our office.