What actually causes breast cancer?
Be aware — because it’s not just about the risk factors, but how they combine that can lead to the disease… Paarl Dieticians give us the low-down.
Breast cancer rates are on the rise, with one in eight women developing the disease in their lifetime. Interestingly, the majority of breast cancer cases these days are sporadic, with no family history. It’s actually caused by the interaction of genetic, environmental, nutritional and hormonal factors. Be aware of how these factors interact so you know your risk profile.
1. Genetic Factors:
Having first-degree relatives (mother, sister or daughter) with breast and/or ovarian cancer doubles the risk and having two increases your risk five-fold. Having male relatives with prostate cancer is also a risk factor.
2. Hormonal Factors:
Women with early onset of menstruation (before age 12), late menopause (after age 55), a menstrual cycle shorter or longer than average, no pregnancies or a first pregnancy after the age of 30, and not having breast-fed their kids, have slightly higher risk. These factors increase a women’s lifetime level of oestrogen exposure. The greater the oestrogen exposure, the greater the risk of developing breast cancer.
3. Dietary Factors:
Obesity and the Western-style diet (think a high intake of saturated fat, more processed food, plus reduced intake of whole grains, fruit and veggies) contribute to the rising incidence of breast cancer.
4. Lifestyle Factors:
The consumption of alcohol and, obviously, long-term smoking. Keep your drinking to a minimum, and crush those cancer sticks once and for all.
Looking for more on cancer? This really simple image could help you detect breast cancer.