Articles on risk factors for breast cancer

How to Be on a Lookout for Breast Cancer

Dr. Jyotsna Gupta, Gynecologist/Obstetrician
Breast cancer is currently the most common cancer detected in Indian women. It is also the leading cause of cancer deaths in women all over the world. Lack of awareness and screening combined with diagnosis in advanced stages accounts to loss of life due to this disease which is treatable when caught in early stages.1. The risk factorsBeing a women and increasing age are most likely risk factors. Other known risk factors are Previously diagnosed Cancer in the same or other breast Family history of breast cancer(close relatives with breast cancer) Early onset of menstrual period (before age 12) Late menopause (after age 55) Not having children & having first child after age 30 Long term use of Hormone replacement therapy Obesity (overweight, particularly after menopause)2. Screening test· Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk· Have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years starting at age 20, and every year starting at age 40 3. Abnormal signs See a doctor if you notice any of these breast changes:· Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area· Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast· Change in the size or shape of the breast· Dimpling or puckering of the skin· Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple· Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast· Nipple discharge that starts suddenly· New pain in one spot that doesn't go away 4. How to reduce risk Make healthy lifestyle choices Everyone should aim to:Be physically active, so do  regular exercise.Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Eat at least 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables every day.Choose 100 percent whole grain foods (such as 100 percent whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, millet and quinoa).Limit red meat and processed meat. Choose chicken, fish or beans more often.Limit "bad" fats (saturated and trans fats). These are found in foods such as red meat, poultry skin, full fat dairy, fried foods, margarine, donuts and microwave popcorn.Eat"good" fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats). These are found in foods such as olive and canola oil, nuts and natural nut butters, avocado and olives.Limit alcohol intake to less than one drink a day for women and fewer than two drinks a day for men.Limit menopausal hormone useBreastfeed, if you can

Worried About Cancer: Life Style Modification to Reduce the Risk

Dr. Sunny Jain, Oncologist
You can save yourself from cancer. I am sure you are eager to know how you can actually do that.The rampant increase in the number of cancer cases is an outcome of the faulty modern lifestyle, eating habits, addictions and the worsening environmental changes. Yes, genes and hormones play an important role, but the other factors deserve equal blame.Inculcating good habits like quitting smoking, alcohol abstinence, practising regular yoga, eating natural and antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables and maintaining healthy body weight can help keep cancer at bay. Importantly, incorporating regular exercise in your daily schedule can go a long way in protecting yourself from cancer. It significantly reduces the cancer cases. A study reveals as much as 25% reduction in breast cancer rate among women who exercise regularly compared to those who do not.For all those who are curious to know how exercise helps abate cancer, let me tell you enough research has been done to understand the role of regular physical activity in killing cancer cells. Have a look at what such researches have concluded:Particularly in women, physical activity lowers the level of a female hormone oestrogen. High levels of oestrogen are associated with higher risk of breast and uterine cancer. Regular exercise is highly recommended in post menopausal women to reduce the risk of these cancers.In cancer, cells of the body multiply uncontrollably. Insulin is the hormone that can turn on the multiplication of cells. Exercise helps to lower the insulin levels in the body and prevent multiplication of cells that occurs during cancer.Physical activity also prevents colon cancer. As we exercise, it promotes the bowel movement. Faster transit of the harmful chemicals from processed meat and other processed food items prevents the damage to the lining of the bowels. Exercise curbs the inflammation that happens due to such damage. Repeated inflammation and replacement of dead cells by new cells can trigger abnormal growth of cells, which leads to cancer. Thus, exercising helps against colon cancer.Exercise reduces stress and fatigue, makes you feel fresh and boosts immunity to prevent cancer. Physical activity keeps a check on your weight and eventually checks out cancer.How much to exercise:A daily 30 minute moderate exercise like walking, slow swimming, playing an outdoor sport like tennis is recommended.A 20 minute vigorous exercise 3-4 times a week like jogging, running, cycling or swimming is ideal.Complement these with muscle strengthening exercises for upper and lower body like push ups,weights etc twice a week.Say good bye to a sedentary life style, to embrace a healthier, cancer- free life.

I Am a Working Woman, Does That Mean My Risks of Cancer Are Higher?

Ms. Samara Mahindra, Dietitian/Nutritionist
The chance of a person getting cancer depends upon a lot of factors. Amongst these are factors like one’s age, work, location, sex, lifestyle habits and occupation. There is constant research done regarding the groups which face a higher risk of getting cancer. Such as, groups of people working in industries which deal with chemicals like benzene on a daily bases can be at a higher risk of getting cancer.Moreover, researchers have found that working women who have occupations that require a high level of skill (e.g. engineer, lawyer, scientist) can be at a higher risk of getting cancer as well. Consequently, women who have jobs that don’t require a high level of skill (e.g. housemaid, cleaner) are not at a higher risk.Research like this is incredibly helpful in preventing new cancer cases and delving deeper into causative factors of getting cancer in the first place. India has a very large number of women professionals in skilled occupations which is growing steadily and might be the reason to a growing number of breast cancer cases as well, however it is not a definite conclusion. An opposing argument can very well be that the growing mass of working women in India is leading to regular screenings and employee health check-ups that are initiated by corporate organizations and therefore a higher detection of cases.It is also said that women who consume alcohol have a higher risk of getting cancer and key to prevention lies in following a diet that reduces your chances of cancer. Some have speculated that the reason women who have jobs that require a high level of skill are at greater risk maybe due to the fact their occupation may expose them to higher levels of stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition and lifestyle.Therefore controlling your chances is very much in your hands.Such as:• Regular screenings – Such as a self-breast examination once a month / Pap smear once in three years / mammograms once a year for women 45 years and above.• Lifestyle – One can further minimise their chances by leading an active lifestyle, balanced diet, rest-full sleep and engaging in stress relieving techniques such as meditation.• Knowledge – Knowledge is power when it comes to cancer and we cannot stress on this any further. Enriching your knowledge on how to live healthier and knowing your environment and surroundings can be lifesaving.

Powerful Tips That Will Help You Prevent Breast Cancer!

Dr. Disha Sridhar, Gynecologist/Obstetrician
We hear so much about breast cancer these days . The incidence is increasing day by day and many younger women are being diagnosed with this problem. Much effort is placed on trying to detect cancer at an earlier stage with expensive and semi invasive procedures like mammography. The research now shows that it has its own set of risks. Is there a better way? Yes there is which I am going to tell you now as prevention is always better than cure.We all know that ESTROGEN the female hormone is implicated in breast cancer. Research shows that how you metabolise estrogen can be one of the causes of cancer. To prevent breast cancer, we at Truhealing focus on supporting estrogen detoxification, a process that happens primarily in the liver.TYPES OF ESTROGEN- GOOD & BAD.The question comes up that when all of us have estrogen, why do only some people develop a breast cancer? Well its because there are two kinds of estrogens, good and bad and they make more bad estrogens than good ones.When estrogen is processed for elimination, the hormones are sent to the liver where they are metabolized, a process also called detoxification. During the estrogen detox process, you can end up with “bad” estrogens or “good” estrogens. The bad ones are toxic and damage DNA, as opposed to the “good” estrogen metabolites that behave safely and are preferable. Although our genetics influence how easily we make the good and bad estrogens, it turns out that food and other lifestyle factors have a major effect on the kinds of metabolites the liver will make. Thats why I like to say that food is the most powerful medicine.IMPROVE YOUR RATIO OF GOOD:BAD ESTROGENSThe best way to reduce your cancer risk is to increase your good estrogens, and decrease the bad. Here are some tips.Eat lots of food that supports estrogen detoxification pathways: cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, fiber from fruits and vegetables, beans, flax seeds etc.Consider taking the supplement Diindolylmethane, which can increase good estrogen and reduce bad ones. Hence decrease the risk of breast cancer.Optimize your vitamin D levels. Get your vitamin D level checked. Ideally, you’ll want your levels within the therapeutic range of 50-70 ng/ml.Practice healthy lifestyle and avoid over exposure to chemicals (plastics), and pesticides.Breast cancer can be prevented with some simple dietary and lifestyle changes. 

A Few Points About Breast Cancer

Dr. Yogesh Kumar, Ayurveda
Breast cancer is cancer that forms in the cells of the breasts. There are numerous types of breast cancer, but cancer that begins in the milk ducts (ductal carcinoma) is the most common type.After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. Breast cancer can occur in both men and women, but it's far more common in women.Public support for breast cancer awareness and research funding has helped improve the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Breast cancer survival rates have increased and the number of deaths has been declining, thanks to a number of factors such as earlier detection, new treatments and a better understanding of the disease.It's not clear what causes breast cancer. Doctors know that breast cancer occurs when some breast cells begin growing abnormally. These cells divide more rapidly than healthy cells do. The accumulating cells form a tumor that may spread (metastasize) through your breast, to your lymph nodes or to other parts of your body.Breast cancer most often begins with cells in the milk-producing ducts. Doctors call this type of breast cancer invasive ductal carcinoma. Breast cancer may also begin in the milk glands known as lobules (invasive lobular carcinoma) within the breast.Researchers have identified things that can increase your risk of breast cancer. But it's not clear why some people who have no risk factors develop cancer, yet other people with risk factors never do. It's likely that breast cancer is caused by a complex interaction of your genetic makeup and your environment.Inherited breast cancer Doctors estimate that only 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are linked to gene mutations passed through generations of a family. A number of inherited defective genes that can increase the likelihood of breast cancer have been identified. The most common are breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2), both of which increase the risk of both breast and ovarian cancer.If you have a strong family history of breast cancer or other cancers, blood tests may help identify defective BRCA or other genes that are being passed through your family. Consider asking your doctor for a referral to a genetic counselor, who can review your family health history. A genetic counselor can also discuss the benefits, risks and limitations of genetic testing with you. It's important to remember that the genetic tests help to identify a high-risk individual or family, but they don't definitively predict who will or will not get breast cancer.Risk factorsA risk factor is anything that makes it more likely you'll get a particular disease. But having one or even several risk factors doesn't necessarily mean you'll develop cancer — many women who develop breast cancer have no known risk factors other than simply being women.Factors that are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer include:Being female. Women are much more likely than men are to develop breast cancer.Increasing age. Your risk of breast cancer increases as you age. Women older than 55 have a greater risk than do younger women.A personal history of breast cancer. If you've had breast cancer in one breast, you have an increased risk of developing cancer in the other breast.A family history of breast cancer. If you have a mother, sister or daughter with breast cancer, you have a greater chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Still, the majority of people diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.Inherited genes that increase cancer risk. Certain gene mutations that increase the risk of breast cancer can be passed from parents to children. The most common gene mutations are referred to as BRCA1 and BRCA2. These genes can greatly increase your risk of breast cancer and other cancers, but they don't make cancer inevitable.Radiation exposure. If you received radiation treatments to your chest as a child or young adult, you're more likely to develop breast cancer later in life.Obesity. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of breast cancer because fat tissue produces estrogen that may help fuel certain cancers.Beginning your period at a younger age. Beginning your period before age 12 increases your risk of breast cancer.Beginning menopause at an older age. If you began menopause after age 55, you're more likely to develop breast cancer.Having your first child at an older age. Women who give birth to their first child after age 35 may have an increased risk of breast cancer.Postmenopausal hormone therapy. Women who take hormone therapy medications that combine estrogen and progesterone to treat the signs and symptoms of menopause have an increased risk of breast cancer.Drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer. Experts recommend no more than one alcoholic beverage a day for women.Other risk factors that have been suggested, but don't play any role in the development of breast cancer include tightfitting bras, antiperspirants, breast implants and shift work.Chemotherapy Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. If your cancer has a high chance of returning or spreading to another part of your body, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy to decrease the chance that the cancer will recur. This is known as adjuvant systemic chemotherapy.Chemotherapy is sometimes given before surgery in women with larger breast tumors. Doctors call this neoadjuvant chemotherapy. The goal is to shrink a tumor to a size that makes it easier to remove with surgery. This may also increase the chance of a cure. Research is ongoing into neoadjuvant chemotherapy to determine who may benefit from this treatment.Chemotherapy is also used in women whose cancer has already spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy may be recommended to try to control the cancer and decrease any symptoms the cancer is causing.Chemotherapy side effects depend on the drugs you receive. Common side effects include hair loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and a small increased risk of developing infection.Hormone therapy Hormone therapy — perhaps more properly termed hormone-blocking therapy — is often used to treat breast cancers that are sensitive to hormones. Doctors sometimes refer to these cancers as estrogen receptor positive (ER positive) and progesterone receptor positive (PR positive) cancers.Hormone therapy can be used after surgery or other treatments to decrease the chance of your cancer returning. If the cancer has already spread, hormone therapy may shrink and control it.

Does Drinking Alcohol Cause Man Boobs/ Male Breast?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
The smallest appearance of any fat around the chest for men is a moment of horror and shock. It is the kind of fat deposit which no man would be caught dead in. So, what can be done to delete any sort of risk of developing these absolutely unwanted ‘male breasts’?You will be surprised to know that the very act considered to be manly- 1.Chugging alcohol one drink after the other leads to the development of traits which are exactly opposite of manly. 2.Excess alcohol intake causes alterations in your hormone system which can lead to not only the formation of male breasts but also sexual infertility.How it works once Alcohol goes inside?The smartest way to enjoy alcohol and not let it affect your body is by not exceeding 3 drinks within 2 hours. The science is simple when you consume alcohol your liver puts breakdown of every other kind of ingested fat on hold and concentrates on breaking down the alcohol as it becomes the priority food for that moment. Till this alcohol is completely processed by your body, it stores more fat than normal. Your liver can take up to 2 days to process a couple of drinks! Now what happens to the fat in all the other foods which you ate along with of after your drink? That fat is just stored in your body in fat cells thereby making you gain weight. In short it slows your metabolism down. The time limit of two hours is quoted to give you a sense of the efficiency of your liver. You do not have a super liver, in case you exceed the suggested drinks quota and go beyond 3 drinks in 2 hours, then that takes a toll on your liver. Your liver in the presence of the extra alcohol goes into a stress situation thereby inefficient breakdown of alcohol starts and accumulation of the fat starts to build up around the liver causing fatty liver condition. For healthier liver, morning lemon water is really helpful. Now, once you have an inefficient liver, the breakdown of hormones by the liver also suffers, creating a misbalance of hormones in the body. This misbalance majorly affects the levels of oestrogen and progesterone. The excess oestrogen fails to be broken down and eliminated from the body by the diseased liver thereby letting the oestrogen have its own effects in the body- causing male breasts development and eventually sexual infertility if not treated at the right time. The condition of development of male breast is called gynecomastia. In turn, a perfectly balanced hormone ratio actually promotes healthy weight loss.Alcohol intake and Male boobsBesides, promoting the growth of man boobs, alcohol is also high in calories. These calories are all sugar based, so they are simple carbohydrates. The mixers in alcohol such as colas and juices add to the sugar intake. Excess sugar promotes fat storage in the body. Increased fat in the body also promotes fat storage in the chest area, further exacerbating the condition of male breast. Along with alcoholic drinks, excessive consumption of so called healthy food can also make your body develop male breast. It can also lead to abnormal production of oestrogen in your body. With increasingly sedentary lifestyles and increased food and alcohol intake, the problem of male breast is becoming increasingly common. As you also gain weight in the process you put your heart, liver, kidney and thyroid at stake. All of these organs are at an excessive risk of developing a serious condition under a glut of alcohol in the body.What is the solution to reduce man boobs/male breasts? 1.Your first step should be to reduce your alcohol intake and not allow your man boobs to grow anymore. 2.Then, work on cutting down your body fat. Watch your diet, and get some exercise to reduce your male breasts.

Don't Believe in These 6 Hyped Cancer Myths!

Dr. Sandeep Nayak, Surgical Oncologist
Try a Google search on ‘cancer’ and you’ll be hit with millions of web pages. And same is the case with YouTube videos. Not only does an online search brings up a wealth of credible information about the disease and its treatment, but also pages spreading common myths and misconceptions. So how do we know what’s accurate when some of these myths can sound perfectly logical?Certain popular notions about how cancer starts and spreads—though scientifically wrong—can seem to make sense, especially when those ideas are rooted in old theories. But wrong ideas about cancer can lead to needless worry and even affect good prevention and treatment decisions. It is always advisable to check the source of the article. Medical professionals writing an article or blog on their specialties would always be more reliable than an unknown source. Here are some common cancer myths and misconceptions:Myth 1: Cancer is a man-made, modern diseaseCancer is not just a ‘modern’, man-made disease of Western society. Cancer has existed as long as humans have. There is evidence of cancer in historical scriptures and archaeologists have found remains of people who died of cancer thousands of years ago. Our lifestyle and longevity might have increased the risk of cancer.Myth 2: Superfoods prevent cancerBlueberries, beetroot, broccoli, garlic, green tea… the list goes on. Despite thousands of websites claiming otherwise, there’s no such thing as a ‘superfood’. It’s a marketing term used to sell products and has no scientific basis. These foods rich antioxidants may reduce the risk, but cannot completelyprevent it.  Myth 3: ‘Acidic’ diets cause cancerThis is biological nonsense. True, cancer cells can’t live in an overly alkaline environment, but neither can any of the other cells in your body. There’s no good evidence to prove that diet can manipulate whole body pH, or that it has an impact on cancer. However, it is true that the acid secreted by stomachhas a role in reducing cancer risk. Myth 4: Cancer is a fungus – and sodium bicarbonate is the cureProponents of this theory say that cancer is caused by infection by the fungus candida, and that tumours are actually the body’s attempt at protecting itself from this infection. As far as we are aware, there have been no published clinical trials of sodium bicarbonate as a treatment for cancer. We do wish it was that simple.Myth 5: There’s a miracle cancer cure…From cannabis to coffee enemas, the internet is awash with videos and personal anecdotes about ‘natural’ ‘miracle’ cures for cancer. Some wild fruits have been portrayed as miracle cure for cancer. Medical science specialises in extracting the chemicals available in naturally occurring in the environment to see the effect on cancer cells and make to available to patients. Many of the treatments available to days have been derived from naturally occurring chemicals. Myth 6: Alternate medicine can cure cancer without side effect…Contrary to popular belief, alternate medicines are not side effect free. Many of the products used in alternative medicine have heavy metals which are poisonous and can affect the function of vital organs. The naturally occurring chemicals in plants that have medicinal property need to be extracted to give best results. When these products are administered without purification, the other chemicals in the product can cause severe side effects.Modern medicine may still be lagging behind in the treatment of some cancers. However, what is provided by modern medicine is tested, researched and documented. It is important that the patients don’t take treatment based in myths and loose valuable time when cancer could be cured. 

How Is National Breast Cancer Month Making a Difference?

Ms. Samara Mahindra, Dietitian/Nutritionist
National Breast cancer awareness month is celebrated to increase the awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. It makes people more determined to fight cancer and becomes a platform for sharing experiences by finding a community of like-minded people.Health experts have found an increase in breast cancer among younger women. It can be frightening, shocking and a painful experience for most and taking the right precautions are mandatory.It’s time to be on your toes for a mammogram!Following precautionary measures i.e, taking a self breast examination every month and undergoing a mammogram post the age of fifty is essential. Doing this will most probably detect the presence of cancer in early stages and therefore survival rates can increase tremendously.Dismal state of breast cancer screenings in IndiaA WHO Study claims that most women around the world suffer from breast cancer predominantly and majority of such cases in developing countries, get detected in advanced stages.India has a long way in terms of spreading awareness. Even though most of the state government medical colleges are offering free breast cancer screening in urban and rural areas, the number of women showing up at hospitals for these tests are very low. Reasons for a low response is lack of awareness about health and cancer along with the discretion or shyness associated with sexuality.On the other hand…It’s a proud fact that the Indian government has come up with a cancer prevention programme, making screening of oral, cervix and breast cancer for male and female above the age of 30 mandatory.Social organisations like non-governmental organisations, self-help groups and other organisations working at the ground level are trying to focus their efforts to bring success to such campaigns.Sharing your storyThere are breast cancer survivors who are now stepping out and sharing their experiences with the rest of the world. They are encouraging other women to step out and take the right measures in protecting themselves and providing hope to those who have already been through the illness. Such as CARER Program Breast Cancer survivor Shobha Moorjani says,“I can say with absolute confidence that right after my chemotherapy, with the CARER Program I bounced back and fought cancer so bravely that it didn’t affect me that I ever had that disease. I have cleared my first test completely.”Listen to the heart-warming story of Shobha Moorjani at Here.Spread the knowledgeSo if you are going through breast cancer or are a survivor or know someone who has then it’s your month people, spread the knowledge. Here are some ways…Host a cancer survivor partySpeak to your community, school or even your family and friends about screeningRun a marathonAnd for women who are already doing this Thumbs up!

8 Ways to Prevent Breast Cancer

Dr. Devendra Singh, Homeopath
1. Keep Weight in CheckIt’s easy to tune out because it gets said so often, but maintaining a healthy weight is an important goal for everyone. Being overweight can increase the risk of many different cancers, including breast cancer, especially after menopause.2. Be Physically ActiveExercise is as close to a silver bullet for good health as there is, and women who are physically active for at least 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer. Regular exercise is also one of the best ways to help keep weight in check.3. Eat Your Fruits & Vegetables – and Avoid Too Much AlcoholA healthy diet can help lower the risk of breast cancer.  Try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and keep alcohol at moderate levels or lower (a drink a day or under).  While moderate drinking can be good for the heart in older adults, even low levels of intake can increase the risk of breast cancer.  If you don’t drink, don’t feel you need to start. If you drink moderately, there’s likely no reason to stop. But, if you drink more, you should cut down or quit.4. Don’t SmokeSmokers and non-smokers alike know how unhealthy smoking is.  On top of lowering quality of life and increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and at least 15 cancers – including breast cancer – it also causes smelly breath, bad teeth, and wrinkles. Now that’s motivation to stay smoke-free or work to get smoke-free.5. Breastfeed, If PossibleBreastfeeding for a total of one year or more (combined for all children) lowers the risk of breast cancer. It also has great health benefits for the child.6. Avoid Birth Control Pills, Particularly After Age 35 or If You SmokeBirth control pills have both risks and benefits. The younger a woman is, the lower the risks are. While women are taking birth control pills, they have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. This risk goes away quickly, though, after stopping the pill. The risk of stroke and heart attack is also increased while on the pill – particularly if a woman smokes. However, long-term use can also have important benefits, like lowering the risk of ovarian cancer, colon cancer, and uterine cancer – not to mention unwanted pregnancy – so there’s also a lot in its favor. If you’re very concerned about breast cancer, avoiding birth control pills is one option to lower risk.7. Avoid Post-Menopausal HormonesPost-menopausal hormones shouldn’t be taken long term to prevent chronic diseases, like osteoporosis and heart disease. Studies show they have a mixed effect on health, increasing the risk of some diseases and lowering the risk of others, and both estrogen-only hormones and estrogen-plus-progestin hormones increase the risk of breast cancer. If women do take post-menopausal hormones, it should be for the shortest time possible. The best person to talk to about the risks and benefits of postmenopausal hormones is your doctor.8. Tamoxifen and Raloxifene for Women at High RiskAlthough not commonly thought of as a “healthy behavior,” taking the prescription drugs tamoxifen and raloxifene can significantly lower the risk of breast cancer in a woman at high risk of the disease.Approved by the FDA for breast cancer prevention, these powerful drugs can have side effects, so they aren’t right for everyone. If you think you’re at high risk, talk to your doctor to see if tamoxifen or raloxifene may be right for you.