Statistics for breast cancer are frightening. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in American women, second only to lung cancer. Hlt is the most common malignancy in North America and in Europe. Your chances of getting breast cancer are one in eight. Fortunately, there have been outstanding strides made in breast cancer treatment in the last few years. No longer is breast cancer considered a death threat. Unlike twenty years ago when my cousin died at the age of 35, many more alternatives and treatments are available. Now your risk of dying of breast cancer is less than one in twenty-eight. That is good news as more and more women join the ranks of “survivor” of breast cancer.
Risk factors for breast cancer include some that you can change and some that you cannot change. A trait that cannot be changed is the fact you are a woman, you are aging, and you have a family history of breast cancer. If you have a close family member with breast cancer, mother, sister, or daughter, your risk doubles. Other risks that can’t be changed are if you started your periods before you were twelve years old, or if you started menopause later than normal (after fifty.)
A newly found genetic mutation is being researched. This genetic mutation may increase your risk of breast cancer. The gene BRCA1 or BRCA2 may be inherited mutations and may cause an increased risk of developing breast cancer. If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, especially if they are under the age of 50, you may want to talk to your doctor. Genetic testing can be performed to see if you are a carrier of this mutated gene.
You can reduce your risk of breast cancer by being aware of the factors that increase your risk of cancer and the ones you have control of. You will slightly increase your risk of this disease if you are taking estrogens with progesterone for symptoms of menopause. If you are taking birth control pills, they also increase your risk. Studies show this risk is reduced if a woman has not taken birth control pills for ten years. Other risks that you can control are, drinking, being overweight, not getting the proper amount of exercise, and not breastfeeding.
Remember, anyone can develop breast cancer, including men. We are all at risk of developing malignancy in our breast, and statistics are based on probabilities and risk factors. You can control and reduce your risk of breast cancer by taking care of your health, getting the proper exercise, and losing weight. Some risks are not under your control such as age, family history, early periods, and late menopause. Knowing what the controllable risks are, and working to keep your body healthy can reduce the other risks.
If you are aware of being at high risk of developing cancer, you should have regular breast screenings, and practice self-examination every month. These two items can greatly reduce your risk of breast cancer.