Surely you know some woman who has or has had breast cancer.
It is not uncommon since it is the most frequent tumor in women (more than 1.6 million cases a year). In the last decades, the number of cases has increased.
Read the tips at the end of the post to find out how to reduce the chance of developing breast cancer by up to 35%.
What are the risk factors for breast cancer?
It should be noted that breast cancer is more frequent in developed countries. This could be due to the fact that some of the risk factors, that is, the conditions that increase the probability of having breast cancer, are associated with the western lifestyle.
There are two types of risk factors depending on our ability to change them and thereby reduce the likelihood of having it:
Those that cannot be modified are:
Being a woman, although men can also have breast cancer.
The probability of having breast cancer increases with age, especially after age 55.
Genetic inheritance, have first-degree relatives who have had breast cancer or belong to a family with genetic risk.
The effect of hormones: The breast is exposed to the combined effect of several female hormones in each menstrual cycle. The more menstrual cycles a woman has throughout life. The more likely she is to have breast cancer.
Having the first rule before age 12, having late menopause (after age 55) or not having children. Are factors that increase the likelihood of having breast cancer because of the number of menstrual cycles increases. It also affects having the first child after age 35.
Some characteristics of the breast: Breast density is determined on mammograms. Is classified into 4 levels ranging from fatty to very dense. Having very dense breasts increases the risk of having cancer with respect to fat.
Having previously had breast cancer or some high-risk breast diseases, such as atypical ductal hyperplasia. Women with this type of background always have a higher risk of breast cancer. Must follow more intensive preventive. Early detection measures than the general population.
Factors that can be modified and that are the basis of prevention:
Obesity and overweight increase the likelihood of having breast cancer after menopause. It seems that the risk increases when weight gain occurs throughout adulthood. That is between 18 and 50 or 60 years.
Sedentary life and lack of physical exercise increase the risk of breast cancer by 6% to 13%. Especially that affecting postmenopausal women.
Alcohol. The risk increases by about 10% in women who consume 1 or 2 drinks a day compared to non-drinkers. Up to 50% of women who consume 3-4 drinks a day.
Tobacco Recent studies suggest that smoking before having children (especially in adolescence) increases the risk of breast cancer. Tobacco cancer agents, especially benzopyrenes. Act directly on breast cells that have not yet reached maturity, which comes with pregnancies. In addition, smoking at any stage of life is a risk factor for the development of different types of cancer. Including breast cancer.
Take hormonal therapy for menopausal symptoms, especially in prolonged treatments (the longer the risk). However, it should be noted that not all treatments are at risk. Your gynecologist can guide you.
Ionizing radiation, such as chest radiation therapy for cancer treatment. Increases the risk of breast cancer.
Some environmental pollutants called endocrine disruptors have been linked to the occurrence of breast cancer in experimental animals. Some examples are bisphenol A. Present in the plastic of some food containers, dioxins. PFOA or C8. Present in some non-stick such as Teflon or waterproofing such as gore-tex until 2014 when it was removed.
Can breast cancer be prevented?
For a long time, it was considered that breast cancer could not be prevented. So all efforts focused on early detection with mammograms.
Nowadays, in addition to detecting it early with mammograms. We try to avoid its appearance by controlling the modifiable risk factors that we have explained previously.
Thus, although the control of these risk factors does not totally prevent breast cancer. It is possible to reduce the probability that it appears.
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You will find 10 recommendations to prevent breast cancer:
- Prolong breastfeeding for at least 6 months and better still more than 12 months.
- Eat a varied, balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, fish and olive oil (Mediterranean diet pattern)
- Maintain a healthy weight, avoiding overweight and obesity in postmenopause.
- Exercise according to the age and physical condition of each one, and do it on a regular basis.
- Dispense with alcohol consumption.
- Avoid menopausal hormone replacement therapy.
- Know the family history and inform the family doctor of those that are relevant.
- Do not delay the consultation before an alarm sign.
- Women over 50 must participate in screening programs through periodic mammograms after adequate information on the risks and benefits associated with them.
- Consult with your doctor any doubts you have about breast cancer.