One in nine women (at least in the UK) will get breast cancer during their lives – a truly startling statistic. This is more than double the amount of women that were affected 30 years ago.
There has been a lot of work done to establish the reason for the increase. It is clear that we know some of the reasons, but not all. Even so paying attention to these risk factors will make it less likely that you are one of these women. The known and scientifically accepted risk factors that we can do something about include HRT, being over weight, low exercise levels, increasing alcohol consumption and high meat consumption.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
HRT has long been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Sadly many women believe that there are no effective alternatives to HRT, but this is not true. The herb sage is used for hot flushes/flashes, and wild yam cream can help improve a whole lot of menopausal symptoms. Flower remedies can help the emotional challenges of the menopause. It is definitely not a choice between either HRT or just suffering.
After the menopause the amount of oestrogen hormones produced by the body declines naturally. It used to be thought that fat (or ‘adipose tissue’ to give it its scientific name) was inert, but in recent years it has been recognised that it produces hormones, including oestrogen. It is thought that this additional oestrogen production is what leads to overweight menopausal women being more susceptible to breast cancer. Cancer Research UK says that about 8% of breast cancer cases in the UK may be attributable to overweight and obesity. Yet another reason to control your weight regardless of your age.
Lack Of Exercise
Exercise is important for all sorts of reasons, and it has been shown to have an effect on how likely you are to get breast cancer. It is unclear from the research whether this is because of exercise’s positive effect on body weight or because of the effect it has on hormones. But the link is definitely there. (By the way research has also shown that, if you have breast cancer and walk three to five hours a week, you are 50 percent less likely to die from the disease than inactive women with breast cancer.)
Alcohol consumption is on the increase (at least in the UK) with women in particular drinking more alcohol. Cancer Research UK estimates from the scientific research that around 4% of breast cancers in women in developed countries may be attributable to alcohol. This doesn’t mean you can’t drink any alcohol, but excessive alcohol consumption can lead to breast cancer. Many women fool themselves about how much alcohol they drink, but you cannot fool the body as it experiences the effect of that lack of control.
A higher intake of meat (red meat, poultry, and processed meat) was associated with a significantly higher breast cancer incidence rate in a study published early 2008 (Eur J Canc Prev. 2008;17:39-47) . The study looked at 378 women who developed breast cancer and matched them to controls who did not develop breast cancer. Every 25 gram increase in consumption of total meat, red meat, and processed meat led to a 9, 15, and 23 percent increase in risk of breast cancer, respectively. You don’t have to become a vegetarian, but decide to eat some delicious vegetarian meals every week. You’ll probably save money and may well be surprised at just how tasty they can be.
Remember the statistic – one in nine women will get breast cancer. If I told you that one in 9 women would win a 1000 pounds/dollars in a lottery, a lot of you would rush to buy a ticket. By acting on the information in this article you will be reducing you chances of buying that lottery ticket for breast cancer.