Lowering your risk for Breast Cancer

11 07 2010

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women. A woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with age. Currently, a woman has approximately a 12% chance of developing breast cancer if she lives to be 90 years old; this also means her risk of not getting breast cancer is approximately 88%. Death rates from breast cancer have decreased since 1990. There were more than 180,000 cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in the US in 2008 with 40,000 deaths. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths—lung cancer is the first. To some extent, breast cancer may be preventable.

Cancer occurs when cells divide and grow without restraint. The growth and death of cells is usually regulated; however, when normal cell regulators malfunction and cells don’t die at the proper rate, they continue to divide, and cancer can develop.

Breast cancer usually grows slowly. By the time a tumor is large enough to be felt as a lump, it may have been growing for 10 years and the spread of tumor cells (metastasis) may have already occurred. Therefore, screening methods such as mammography, ultrasound, MRI, or thermography, are important tools in providing early detection. In addition, preventive measures such as a healthy diet and lifestyle, nutritional supplementation, and exercise are crucial.

Knowing the risk factors for breast cancer can help you identify your specific risk. Breast cancer risk factors can be categorized as “modifiable” and “non-modifiable.” Although non-modifiable risk factors cannot be altered, modifiable risk factors can be changed based on daily choices regarding diet, exercise, lifestyle habits, and stress management.

Non-modifiable risk factors for breast cancer include:

• Being female

• Advancing age

• Family history (mother, sister, or positive BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation)

• Early menarche (first menstrual period)

• Late menopause

• Diethylstilbestrol (DES) use by mother

Modifiable risk factors for breast cancer include:

• Obesity

• Lack of exercise

• Hormones: conventional HRT—synthetic progestins and, possibly, synthetic estrogens, depending on duration of use; birth control pills (some studies show this, some don’t); bioidentical estrogen (depending on duration of use)

• Poor diet: high animal and trans fats, low fiber intake, deficient intake of fruits and vegetables

• Breast trauma

• Late age pregnancy, never having been pregnant, lack of breast feeding

• High alcohol intake (>1 drink per day)

• Cigarette smoking

• Working the “graveyard” shift

• Environmental toxin exposure (radiation, xenoestrogens, second hand smoke)

• Benign breast disease (fibrocystic breast changes, may or may not increase risk)

In my new book “HormoneSynergy, Optimal Aging and Hormone Balance” I address all these risk factors as well as discuss ways to reduce your risk.  You will also learn the latest research regarding hormones and breast cancer, and how new studies are showing women who recieve testosterone pellets have been shown to have no increased risk of breast cancer even though they were taking estrogen and synthetic progestins.

You can call our clinic to order a copy of my new book or purchase a copy from our online store.

In Heatlh

Dr. Kathryn Retzler

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