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Risk factors and ways to prevent breast cancer

October 10, 2017 - Olusanya Omokorede

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BREAST cancer occurs when abnormal cells divide in an uncontrolled way in the breast. In this article, we share all the puts you at risk of breast cancer and the measures you can take to prevent breast cancer.

 

Understanding the risks can help you prevent breast cancer. Some of these risk factors include;

  • Female sex; it is commoner in females.
  • Race; it is commoner in whites.
  • Early age at first menstruation.
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Delay in reaching menopause; above age of 55 years
  • Hormone replacement therapy during menopause
  • Having children later in life or not having children; women who have not had children or who had their first child after age 30 have a slightly higher breast cancer risk overall. Having many pregnancies and becoming pregnant at an early age reduces breast cancer risk. Still, the effect of pregnancy seems to be different for different types of breast cancer. For a certain type of breast cancer known as triple-negative, pregnancy seems to increase risk.
  • Family history Having a first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer almost doubles a woman’s risk. Having 2 first-degree relatives increases her risk about 3-fold.
  • Genetic; this can result due to inheritance of mutation of BRACA1 and BRACA2 gene
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to ionizing radiation
  • Increasing age
  • Not breastfeeding
  • Birth control; use of oral contraceptives and depo-Povera can slightly increase the risk of breast cancer. However, the risk returns to same as general population some years after patients stop using them.

How To Prevent Breast Cancer 

It is important to promptly detect breast cancer and treat it to avoid an increase in mortality risk. Preventive measures include;

  •  Breast self examination: It is very important to detect any lump, change is size, colour and shapes of the breast.  Also, you should check for any change in the areola or abnormal discharge from the nipple. You should do this routinely.
  • Mammography should be done from age of 40 years as the earliest breast cancers are detected by a mammogram (XRAY of the breast). Other screening methods include; ultrasound of the breast (done for people under 40years) and MRI. It is recommended that women between 50 to 74 years old should undergo mammography screening every two years.
  • Bilateral breast removal can be suggested in patients with positive BRACA 1 and BRACA 2 genes before they have any lump.
  • Lifestyle modification; exercising regularly reduces the risk of breast cancer by about 14%.
  • High consumption of soy-based foods may reduce risk.
  • Doctors associate High intake of citrus fruit with a 10% reduction in the risk of breast cancer. Therefore, increase your consumption of fruits.

In conclusion, breast cancer accounts for 1.68 million new cases and 522,000 deaths worldwide. It is important we put in place necessary preventive measure to reduce this mortality rate.

Olusanya Omokorede

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