Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Breast cancer is becoming more prevalent. Breast cancer has surpassed cervical cancer as the most frequent cancer in Indian women, accounting for about 14% of all cancers. An Indian woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every four minutes. It is becoming more prevalent in both urban and rural India. The better the prognosis, the better the prognosis.
Breast cancer is caused by a combination of causes. Some are changeable, while others are not. Non-modifiable risk factors include the following.
- Getting older
- Having a late menopause
- Having a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer
- Genetic factors
We can’t do much about these dangers, but we can change other risk factors to lower our chances of getting breast cancer. Certain lifestyle adjustments have been shown to significantly lessen the risk. Dr. Aruna Muralidhar, MD, MRCOG(UK), FRCOG(UK), Senior consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road, Bangalore, discusses nine lifestyle changes that can aid in breast cancer prevention.
Maintaining a healthy weight-
BMI (Body Mass Index) is a useful metric to know. It is calculated by multiplying the weight in kilogrammes by the square of the height in metres. In women, maintaining a healthy BMI of less than 24 and a waist circumference of less than 85 cm reduces the risk of a variety of lifestyle-related illnesses. Until menopause, oestrogen is mostly produced by the ovaries. The oestrogen produced by belly fat raises the risk of breast cancer after menopause.
Being physically active-
Having a regular physical activity programme has been shown to lessen the risk of cancer in general. 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise per week is recommended. The explanation for this advantage is unknown, however it could be related to exercise’s effects on body weight, fat, inflammation, hormones, and energy levels.
Consuming less alcohol-
There is enough data to suggest that drinking alcohol raises the risk of breast cancer. Women who drink one drink per day have a 7-10% increased risk, which rises to 20% if they drink two or more drinks per day. As a result, it is better to avoid alcohol altogether.
Although the evidence is just suggestive and not conclusive, tobacco and both passive and active smoking may raise the risk of breast cancer.
Breastfeeding and maintaining it for a longer period of time- Breastfeeding one’s children has been shown to protect against breast cancer. If it is sustained for more than a year, the danger decreases much more. One of the causes is that a woman’s overall number of menstrual cycles is lowered.
Limiting the use of oral contraceptive pills and hormone replacement therapy- Women who use oral contraceptive pills for more than 5 years have a modest increased risk of breast cancer. For every 7690 women who have used hormonal contraception for at least one year, there is an extra case of breast cancer. In women who require hormone replacement treatment (HRT) or menopausal hormone therapy due to severe symptoms, the lady and her gynaecologist can make a joint decision, weighing the risks and advantages, such as the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. If HRT is deemed required, it should be administered at the lowest dose and for the shortest term possible.
Well-balanced, timely, and thoughtful meals are effective in preventing the majority of health problems. Although no single diet will assist to lower the risk of breast cancer, greasy meals should be avoided. A Mediterranean diet that emphasises plant-based foods including whole grains, extra-virgin olive oil, and mixed nuts may provide some health benefits. However, as long as a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables are taken, as well as a healthy amount of nuts, the Indian diet is absolutely acceptable. Supplementing certain vitamins, such as vitamin C and vitamin D, may lower the risk of breast cancer.
As a society, we must work to eliminate some other elements that may lead to an increase in risk. Plastics, cosmetics, toiletries, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, and other chemicals and substances, for example, may increase the risk of breast cancer. Exposure to these should be kept to a bare minimum. Changes in diurnal rhythm, such as night shifts, are also being investigated as a potential cause of increased breast cancer risk in Indian cities.
Examination is another crucial lifestyle adjustment or habit that needs to be established (BSE). Examining one’s breasts after a period can aid in the early detection of lumps and changes in the breast. Early consultation and diagnosis have the potential to save lives.