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Over the years, the incidence of breast cancer has increased amongst women, both in urban and rural India. Statistics in 2018 reveal that the country saw 1,62,468 new registered cases, while 87,090 deaths were reported. More than 50% of patients are diagnosed in stage 3 and 4 of breast cancer, reducing their chances of survival.
That’s exactly why it is important to understand the risk factors of breast cancer. But before that, let’s take a look at what causes this illness.
Research suggests that breast cancer is caused when DNA in breast cells mutate or change. In some cases, they go unchecked by the immune system, thereby multiplying and growing a tumour.
Although there is no evidence that pinpoints to an exact cause of breast cancer, certain risk factors are strongly linked to the disease. Some people also have inherited mutations that could put them at a higher risk of the disease than others.
We already know how obesity triggers several illnesses, and the same goes for breast cancer. Excess weight is particularly risky in women after menopause. After a woman hits menopause, the fat tissue becomes the body’s primary source of oestrogen after the ovaries stop producing this hormone. More fat tissue means higher oestrogen levels—and that’s not a good sign!
If you want to reduce your risk of breast cancer, make sure you consume a low-fat diet. Try and maintain a healthy body mass index by consuming generous amounts of vegetables and fruits. Also, try to minimise your intake of saturated fat to less than 10% of your total calories per day. Trans fats, processed meats, or charred and smoked foods are a complete no-no!
If you don’t move your body, then you put yourself at a higher risk of breast cancer. Research suggests that exercising for 45-60 minutes of daily, five or more days a week, is important to maintain good breast health. That’s because engaging in physical exercise controls blood sugar and limits blood levels of insulin growth factor, a crucial hormone that impacts how breast cells grow and behave.
Several studies have also pointed towards a link between breast cancer and alcohol consumption. An occasional glass of wine or your favourite tipple isn’t a cause for worry. But if you indulge in drinking every now and then, you might be putting yourself at a high risk of contracting breast cancer. That’s because alcohol can limit your liver’s ability to control blood levels of oestrogen, thereby putting you at a greater risk.
The female hormone oestrogen stimulates the growth of breast cells and exposure to oestrogen for a long period of time can put you at a higher risk of breast cancer. If you have been taking combined hormone replacement therapy for years or even taking oestrogen for over a decade, then it’s time to find an alternative.
Yes yes, we know how stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on our bodies. Apparently, it also puts you at risk of breast cancer. Although there is no evidence to prove this, it is best you reduce your stress levels, because it’s anyway good for your overall health! Practice meditation, yoga or visualisation exercises to calm your senses, and feel relaxed.
So ladies, try and eliminate these risk factors and guard yourself from breast cancer!