October has become synonymous with breast cancer awareness. Everywhere you look, pink is the color you will be sure to find.
This months’ blog is dedicated to anyone who has personally been affected or knows someone with breast cancer.
It seems every day we hear about someone else that was diagnosed. Has breast cancer really become more prevalent? Or has medical technology advanced so much that we can pick up a ‘speck’ of something with the earliest of screening? I believe the answer is a little of both.
According to The National Foundation of Cancer Research, today, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 8 for U.S. women and 1 in 1,000 for U.S. men.
While we can never 100% prevent cancer. Let’s look at the 5 scientifically proven ways to REDUCE the chances of developing breast cancer in ones’ lifetime.
Maintain healthy body weight. Excess fat converts into estrogen. High estrogen levels in the body leads to mutation of cells which can eventually lead to cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise/week. This includes aerobic as well as strength. Just another reason to get moving.
Limit alcohol. In its Report on Carcinogens, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known carcinogen. “Excessive and prolonged alcohol use can weaken the immune system, which is important for preventing and controlling cancer,” says Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery at UPMC. The ethanol in alcohol breaks down to a toxic chemical that can damage DNA. Alcohol may prevent the body from absorbing nutrients that may decrease cancer risk; and it increases estrogen, which is linked to breast cancer. Cancer-causing chemicals could also enter alcoholic beverages during the fermentation process. Moderate alcohol, particularly red wine, may have anti-inflammatory properties that contribute to a larger preventative goal,” Dr. Francis says. Women who drink 3 to 6 drinks per week of any type of alcohol have a 15% increase in their risk of breast cancer. You don’t have to give up your occasional cocktail just yet. Just be mindful of the amount consumed.
Breastfeeding. Research proves mothers who choose to nurse lower their overall risk. Breastfeeding decreases the levels of free estrogen. To those mothers who struggled with this, it is absolutely ok. There are many other things you can do to protect yourselves. If breastfeeding is an option for you, choose it. The benefits clearly outweigh the discomfort of those initial nursing days.
Limit processed foods. The many revealing documentaries have exposed many of our food industry for what it is. With our crops, livestock, and even non-living products being tainted with estrogen, it is no wonder why breast cancer is climbing the charts as the leading cancer of women. Limit your red meats. A recent study from the University of North Carolina showed that eating grilled and barbecued meat increased the risk of death among breast cancer survivors. “Dangerous chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be produced when cooking muscle meat like beef, pork, poultry, and lamb at high temperatures over open flame or hot coals,” says Shayna Komar, a licensed and registered dietitian at Piedmont Healthcare in Georgia. “These chemical reactions cause compounds in the meat to change into potentially cancer-causing agents.”
Know where your foods and other household products are coming from. Go green while eating as local as possible.
Let go of the stress. Stress hasn’t been proven to link to cancer, but recent studies are beginning to point in that direction. “Studies over the last 30 years have identified psychosocial factors including stress, chronic depression, and lack of social support as risk factors for cancer progression,” state authors of the study at UTMD Anderson Cancer Center. Another study at Ohio State University showed that stress actually turns on cancer genes. Next time you begin to get worked up, ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”
The discussion of cancer prevention is just as exciting as it is daunting. Although there are many proven ways to decrease your risk, new findings suggest we may have barely scratched the surface.
While we can’t prevent everything, we sure can try!
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieving and maintaining OPTIMAL health, CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
It’s likely that you or someone you know has been affected by breast cancer. Studies indicate that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. This staggering number makes breast cancer the second leading cause of death among women, and an important reason to pay attention to your breast health, not just in October…but every day of the year.
Women spend a great deal of time tending to the needs of others. Whether you work full time or are a stay-at-home-mom, there’s always something that needs your attention. If a child or family member gets sick, women are usually on the front lines, ready to take action and care for a loved one in need. If the PTA calls asking for an extra two-dozen cupcakes for an upcoming fundraiser, or your boss needs you to attend an after-hours event with a new client, it’s often difficult to “just say no”. Always with good intentions, women end up neglecting their own health and any warning signs that may go along with an illness because they are helping others. It’s important to know, breast cancer does have a higher success rate for a cure when caught early, so awareness is the first step to a healthy, cancer-free you.
It’s still unknown why people develop breast cancer, however experts do know that breast cancer occurs when cells start to develop abnormally. Dividing more quickly than healthy cells, a “lump” can form within the breast tissue, lymph nodes or other parts of your body. Although it’s more common for women to develop breast cancer, it can affect men as well. Obesity, age, sedentary life, and a family history of breast cancer increase the risk for developing breast cancer. More recently, it’s been discovered that certain genetic gene mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 also increases likelihood. Unfortunately these same genes can also increase the risk of other cancers, such as ovarian cancer.
Genetic testing may be considered if there’s a family history of breast cancer. Simple blood or saliva tests are used to identify any inherited mutations in BRCA or other genes.
Because a new lump or mass is the most common sign of breast cancer, it’s important to be aware of changes to your body. Regular mammogram screenings have decreased the number of advanced breast cancers, making it an important appointment to make when scheduling your well visits. Fifteen percent of breast cancers cannot be detected on mammograms, making self-exams another key component of your wellness routine.
Other breast cancer symptoms to watch for include breast size changes, swelling, skin irritation, breast or nipple pain, or inverted nipples, puckering of the breast skin or discharge from the breasts that is not related to child rearing. Breast cancer treatment has come a long way as more and more research and funds are invested into identifying the cause of breast cancer. As women are becoming more in tune with their bodies, they are learning the importance of putting themselves first.
It’s important to take your health seriously, and scheduling regular well visits offers optimum health benefits that aren’t just essential for your quality of life, but for your family as well.
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each patient’s individual needs with comprehensive, individualized treatment options and health programs.