The mere mention of the word “cancer” is enough to make even the strongest person feel afraid. When you are first diagnosed, nothing else seems to register except that you have cancer. However, there is much more to it than you may think, so you need to ask questions to learn more about the exact nature of the cancer that you have.
Breast cancer is serious, as are all forms of cancer. There are numerous risk factors; your genes, your age and the simple fact that you’re a woman are factors you have no control over. The good news is that many other factors are under your direct control: your diet, the amount of exercise you do, your weight and whether you smoke.
If you gain a lot of weight after menopause or you drink more than two glasses of alcohol a day, your risk further increases. The healthier you are, the less likely it is that you will contract breast cancer.
Each year in the U.S. there are 60,000 women who are diagnosed with non-invasive breast cancer and another 190,000 women who have invasive breast cancer. As you get older, your risk increases; about two-thirds of all cases are diagnosed in women over the age of 55.
If a close family member has this diagnosis, your risk doubles. And if you get breast cancer, you are three or four times more likely to get additional breast cancer either in the same breast or the other one.
It is also possible for men to develop breast cancer, even though the incidents are usually only around 1% of the population, but this figure can rise to 10-15% in some of the African countries.
If you maintain a good level of calcium, your risk is reduced by 33%. This is because the density of the breast can cause cancer, and calcium decreases this density. People with low levels of vitamin D are also in a higher risk group for contracting breast cancer, so if you don’t get enough of it naturally or through food, supplements are necessary to improve your levels.
Women who gain a lot of extra weight after menopause increase their risk of breast cancer by 18%. Larger women are highly likely to have more involvement of the lymph nodes, bigger tumors and the prognosis is much lower with a higher mortality rate of 30%. Nevertheless, studies have shown clearly that if women started exercising more once diagnosed, this has reduced the rate of the cancer recurring, as well as the mortality rate.
Women who become mothers and breast feed around the age of 20 have only half the risk of contracting cancer in comparison with those who do it after the age of 30.
As you now know, there are some things that can increase the risk of breast cancer. It is essential to take every possible precaution to avoid increasing your risk for contracting this disease; if you are unsure about any aspect of your health, it is imperative that you consult your doctor.