Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Last week, we talked about breast cancer and how you can take certain steps to be aware of your breast health.
This week, we’ll look at a list of risk factors that have been linked to the development of breast cancer. By knowing these risk factors ahead of time, we can help in reducing our risk of breast cancer.
Risk factors
Risk factors increase one’s chances of developing breast cancer. Studies that have looked for risk factors look for things that are common in people who develop breast cancer than in others. You should know thought that risk factors don’t always act at the same magnitude, so take this with a grain of salt. Risk factors don’t always lead to the disease, so please don’t create a checklist and start to freak out. It’ll really help no one.
Luckily, some risk factors are modifiable so you do have some control over your health. Others aren’t as easy to hear about, as they might have to do with your genes, or other uncontrollable traits.

Modifiable Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

  • Body weight
  • Physical activity
  • Alcohol use
    • is a known carcinogen (cancer-inducing agent).
    • Depends on how much you drink and how often
  • Smoking
  • Hormone replacement therapy and contraceptives
    • Estrogen and progesterones can sometimes increase our risk of breast cancer
    • Synthetic hormones can also increase this risk
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
    • Having gone through pregnancy and breastfeeding can actually lower your risk of getting breast cancer. Now, I’m not saying “Go make babies now!”. But, I mean, babies are cute…
    • Having a child after the age of 35 may bring about a slight increase of risk, much like not having a child at all (This is just for you, ladies. Men, your breasts don’t care if you have kids or not)
  • Radiation exposure

Non- modifiable Risk factors

  • Gender and age
    • Women have a greater risk than men because of those specialized lobules they have.
    • Risk increases as you age
  • History of cancer (family or personal)
  • Early menstruation/late menopause
  • Breast density or conditions
  • BRCA gene mutations

Factors that aren’t risk factors

  • Deodorants or antiperspirants
  • Bras
  • Breast Implants
  • Stress
  • Abortion

Now remember, risk factors don’t always lead to the disease but it’s always good to look after yourself! So take care, know your body and stay healthy 🙂

References

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. 2013. Breast Cancer Risk Factors. CBCF.orghttp://www.cbcf.org/central/AboutBreastHealth/PreventionRiskReduction/risk_factors/Pages/default.aspx. November 7, 2013.

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Breast Health

The month of October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so naturally I’m talking about Breast Health on the first of November. But since all diseases need year-long awareness, let me carry this one into November.

Who needs to monitor their breast health?

We all have breasts! That’s right, breasts for everyone! The only difference between female and male breasts is that male breasts lack specialized lobules, which are divisions of the breast required to aid in the production and excretion of milk. Apparently, Mother Nature thought men didn’t need to be able to produce milk, but I’m sure there are plenty of mothers out there that would argue otherwise.

Either way, there is only one difference between male and female breasts, which means that both women and men need to continuously monitor their breast health.

Why monitor breast health?

Breast cancer usually originates in the lobules of your breasts, which is probably a super great reason to keep an eye on them. And a scary one.

But I thought men don’t have lobules, so why do they get breast cancer? is probably what you’re thinking. Well, calm down, I’ll explain.

Men don’t have the lobules required to produce milk; they do, however, have lobules. The good ol’, regular lobules that give your breast its mass. So guys, girls, everyone, check your breasts regularly.

How do you do it though?

Here are some tips brought to us by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation:

  • Know how your breasts normally look and feel
  • Look and feel for changes, such as
    • Lumps
    • Thickening of the skin
    • Nipple changes and/or discharges
    • Redness of any part of the breast
    • Skin changes (rashes, colour, etc)
    • Dimpling or puckering of the skin or nipple
    • Swelling or pain in the breast area or under arm

Make sure to look and feel at each of these regions:

  • Each whole breast
  • Under and above each breast
  • Under both arms

If you’re ever worried, contact your family physician and set up an appointment. It is always better to be safe.

Next week we’ll look at the established Risk factors for Breast cancer to keep this ball of awareness rolling. Hope your Halloween night was great! Stay safe, lovelies! 🙂

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