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A Few Statistics About Breast Cancer.
According to the World Health Organisation, there were 2.3 million women, globally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020. Sadly, there were 685,000 deaths. As of the end of that year, 7.8 million women that were alive were diagnosed with it within the past 5 years. This makes breast cancer the world’s most prevalent cancer and it occurs in every country of our world.
1 in 8 women are diagnosed with it in their lifetime. Most of them are usually over 50 but younger women can develop it, as well.
Possible Causes of Breast Cancer
Unfortunately, it’s not definitively known what causes it but there are certain factors that are known to increase the risk of you getting breast cancer which include:-
- A higher risk when you get older.
- If you have a family history of it.
- If you have a previous diagnosis of breast cancer.
- If you had a previous benign breast lump.
- If you are overweight or obese.
- If you drink alcohol.
Unfortunately, HRT has been blamed for increasing the risk of getting breast cancer. I can remember several years ago the good old British press exaggerated these risks which frightened women into not taking it, thus, they suffered from menopausal symptoms without anything to help them.
Every woman is different so I can only suggest speaking to your doctor if you are considering taking HRT and have concerns.
Signs of Breast Cancer.
There is a good chance of recovery if it’s detected at an early stage. So, it is important for women to regularly check their breasts to look for any changes. If you find any of the following, please see your doctor.
- A lump or an area of thickened breast tissue.
- A change in the size or shape of one or both breasts.
- Discharge from either of your nipples which may be streaked with blood.
- A lump or swelling in either of your armpits.
- Any dimpling on the skin of your breasts.
- Any change in the appearance of your nipples such as them becoming sunken.
See this Youtube video to show you how to check your breasts.
Breast cancer in men.
Yes, men, you too can get it!
Breast cancer can usually occur in men who are over the age of 60. Symptoms to look out for are:-
- A hard and painless lump that doesn’t move around within your breast.
- Nipples turning inwards.
- Discharge from your nipples.
- Sores or rashes around your nipples that don’t go away.
- Your nipple(s) or surrounding skin becoming hard, red or swollen.
- Small bumps in your armpits.
5 Evidence-based Tips That May Help Prevent Breast Cancer.
In the UK, women are offered mammograms every three years from the age of 50; or younger, if there is a history of breast cancer in their families. So, make sure you attend any screenings you are offered. The sooner cancer cells are discovered the higher your chances are of recovering from it.
It’s uncertain whether we can prevent developing breast cancer but the following could help to reduce your risk of getting it:-
1. Keep a healthy weight. Being overweight can cause more oestrogen to be produced which can increase your risk of breast cancer.
2. Make sure you regularly exercise. Studies show that this could reduce your risk of getting it by around 20%.
3. Don’t eat a lot of saturated fat.
4. Don’t drink alcohol.
5. Try eating a Mediterranean type diet. Studies have shown that those of you who eat this kind of diet may have a reduced risk of developing breast cancer. Use extra-virgin olive oil, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, eat more oily fish and less red meat.
Also, make sure you take a vitamin D supplement from October to March. Studies have shown that low levels of this vitamin are linked to an increased breast cancer risk. Vitamin D may help prevent this cancer by reducing breast cell growth and the production of oestrogen in your body.
Foods that have been studied to see if they reduce your risk of breast cancer.
• Leafy green vegetables like spinach. Spinach contains antioxidants known as ‘carotenoids’ and an analysis of 8 studies in over 7,000 women showed that those with high levels of carotenoids had a significantly lowered risk of breast cancer compared with women with lower levels.
• Citrus fruits. A review of 6 studies of 8,000 people linked a high citrus fruit intake to a 10% reduction in breast cancer.
• Berries. Antioxidants in berries have been shown to protect against cellular damage.
• Cruciferous vegetables. These vegetables contain glucosinate compounds which your body can convert into molecules called ‘isothiocyanates’ which have anticancer potential.
There has been a study of 1,493 women that linked a high cruciferous vegetable intake with a lowered risk of breast cancer.
• Beans. They have a high fibre content. A study of 1,260 Nigerian women showed that had those who had a higher intake of beans had up to a 28% reduced risk of bread cancer compared with those with the lowest intake.
Unfortunately, the above doesn’t guarantee you 100% protection from breast cancer but if you take anything from this post, please examine your breasts on a regular basis (even if you’re younger than 50) and take advantage of screenings that are offered.
Feel free to share any thoughts on this post in the comments box.
Thank you for reading.
Sources: nhs.uk, cancer.org, mayoclinic.org, cdc.gov, preventbreastcancer.org.uk, breastcancer.org.uk, webmd.com, healthline.com, who.int