Some Relevant Facts About Breast Cancer

According to the National Cancer Registry program( NCRP)report for the year 2011, in India itself there have been more than one lakh breast cancer cases, but according to the Indian Cancer Society these are only hospital registered numbers. Although these numbers themselves sound alarming, these are still only those cases of breast cancer which have reached the hospitals, and that too only in metro cities.This is an under estimation of the actual situation since there are many cases which don’t get registered or even detected at times in rural areas. So, one can imagine how common the disease has become. And the sooner you take some concrete action the better ! Breast cancer is no doubt the most common cancer in women, no matter what your race or ethnicity.

Apparently even men can get breast cancer though it is not very common. According to statistics for every 100 cases of breast cancer less than one is found in men and the most common age group when men contact this disease is between 60 and 70 years of age, also the symptoms and treatments are similar to that of women.

There are not many facts that determine why people get breast cancer and why some don’t.We see some women leading a life style that is considered high risk for breast cancer do not get it whereas others with relatively less risk factors get it. According to many researchers risk factor significantly increases with increasing age and also a family history of breast cancer more so when it has been detected within the close family circle of sisters,cousins ,mother and daughter.. No matter what age or what generation one belongs to, it is not too early nor is it too late to take steps to avoid the disease.

Recent researches have given us more ways and importantly more effective ones to do just that. The first reaction to breast cancer or for that matter any cancer is that of devastation and fear of impending death. But thankfully with some care and the right treatment facilities available now it need not be the case every time, unless you have left it for too late !

Some popular myths about Breast Cancer

1. That women under the age of 40 don’t get breast cancer.It is of course true that the chances of getting breast cancer increases with age but the fact is that women belonging to all age groups are at the risk of developing the disease especially when the risk factors are greater.

2.That once you are detected with breast cancer that is the end, which is not at all true. A breast cancer diagnosis need not be a death sentence, since it is curable if detected in the early stages. and even if it has reached an advanced stage ,it can be controlled , if not completely cured, for a long duration of time.

3. That antiperspirants and deodorants can cause breast cancer - So far no cause and effect relationship has been established with regard to this so it remains a myth as of now.However, one can be careful and not make it a practice since there are certain chemical that can cause skin irritation and as we all know any kind of prolonged irritation or inflammation is bad for the skin since it can easily become malignant.

4. That having mammography yearly exposes you to too much radiation and cancer may occur as a result. However, the reality is that the benefits of annual breast check ups are immense and far outweigh any risks that may occur because of the amount of radiation used during diagnosis.In fact studies have proved that the risk factor while taking mammography is very low and can never cause any great harm to our system nor can be one of the causes of contacting breast cancer.

5. That Mastectomy is the only treatment available for breast cancer – this is not the truth since there are several treatments available for breast cancer including chemotherapy,radiation therapy and also oral medication, so Mastectomy is definitely not the only option !

6. That bras having under-wires can cause cancer, which is again not true since there are no available data to prove that under-wired bras can cause breast cancer! However using them constantly may cause irritation and some pain since the ends can scrape the underarms which in turn may lead to some skin inflammations that in turn can turn malignant.This can be more so in warm climates when sweat and heat can cause greater discomfort to ladies.

7. That breast feeding babies prevents breast cancer – No doubt that feeding infants does confer protection against illnesses and also helps one forge a strong bond with the baby.It is also a fact that Breast milk is certainly the best food for infants.These obvious benefits of breastfeeding are widely established and have been accepted. However, it is not still known whether breastfeeding can be protective against breast cancer and so whatever other preventive measures that need to be taken should be continued.

Having gone through a list of all the popular myths that surround breast cancer, let us now look at some of the preventive measures that help us keep the disease at bay or even help us deal with the illness in a more practical, methodical and helpful manner .

Some preventive measures

1. Most women seem to gain a lot of weight after they reach a certain stage in life – normally after marriage, kids and domesticity.However, it is a good idea to watch out for sudden weight gains which can be one of the causes for breast cancer.The reason being that a rise in body weight directly results in the circulation of insulin levels and increased estrogen levels and both of these are directly linked to breast cancer. Any increased weight gain which is more than 12-15 kgs since the time you are 20 years of age can have an increased risk of up to 40% of getting the disease. So it makes sense to watch our weight and keep it at a steady level all through our life.

2. Certain supplements and foods help in preventing breast cancer – Adequate levels of Vitamin D is supposed to lower the risk of breast cancer.So it mkes sense to eat food rich in Vitamin D like Fish, Soya products, milk , Oranges, cereals and even light chocolates.You can of course take Vitamin D supplements as well so that your daily requirement is taken care of.

3. Avoiding Alcohol is always advisable – it is not just to prevent breast cancer but for our all round health .The more alcohol in our system the odds of getting cancer are that much higher. According to many cancer specialists limiting the consumption of alcohol to one drink per day is the best solution to those who like having a drink on a daily basis. Ideally , if you can limit it to 3 drinks per week, there is no fear of too much damage to your system nor will there be any great increase in the estrogen levels .

4. Being physically active is the best cure for any kind of ailment –A regular workout or a brisk walk does wonders for your system.It not only controls weight , it also keeps all the bodily organs working and in good shape, more like an instrument that works fine when it is being used , but gets rusty when it is kept idle.It also brings down levels of insulin and estrogen ,which directly results in bringing down the risk of breast cancer. It is recommended that along with your daily household chores you should do at least 3-4 hours of workouts of any kind, per week to keep yourself in good shape.

5. Eating healthy – This is of course the best preventive measure you can take.When you eat a balanced diet right from childhood staying healthy and fit all through your life is not at all difficult.Cultivating a healthy eating habit right from the beginning is very important. Eating lots of vegetables,pulses,fruits and dairy products and going easy on meats is considered a healthy eating habit .Many researchers are of the opinion that a diet that includes Cabbage,Broccoli,Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and also including sprouted pulses while keeping a strict limit on carbohydrates is very helpful and does a lot of good for our system in general.

6.Take the advise of your doctor before starting on any kind of hormone therapy as to how it would affect your system.Excess hormone can cause cancer and studies have shown that birth control pills do raise the chances of contacting breast cancer and also ovarian cancer. So it is always better to weigh the risks and benefits of any hormone based treatment before going in for it.

7. Have regular check ups – It has been recommended that one should have regular mammograms done once you are above the age of 40 and that women in their 50’s should be ideally screened every other year as a preventive measure. According o studies more than 70% of breast cancer deaths took place because the women did not undergo regular screening nor were they aware of it.

8. Be aware of any changes – Doing regular check ups at home really helps in preventing cancer since you can do this regularly.Lifting the arm and examining the breast for any lumps or swellings is easy to do .This is the early sign of cancer and one should immediately contact a specialist if and when this happens.The lump or the swelling may not always be due to cancer but you have to make sure and clear all doubts regarding the issue at the onset itself.

9. Being positive helps – Our mental attitude has a lot to do with how we progress even after contacting breast cancer and undergoing treatment for it. A balanced diet and regular exercise and a balanced and positive attitude towards life helps one fight the disease effectively so much so that many have come out of it successfully just by sheer determination and grit , also having developed the right attitude of mind.. Also, don't miss out on any of the therapy sessions or medications, if and when you are diagnosed with Breast cancer. Take all the treatments that have been prescribed to you and lead a normal life to the best of your capacity. It is also imperative that you keep yourself physically and mentally engaged all the time so that you don't have time on hand to think,be negative or brood about either the disease or its outcome .

Finally one can conclude that there are many factors that need to be considered and that it is always advisable for individuals to be careful about their food habits and not overdo anything in life . A healthy balanced life style goes a long way in protecting ourselves from developing breast cancer or any other life threatening illness.

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