· 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer
· Breast cancer has the second highest death rates in women among other cancers
· 2,350 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2015
· 85% of breast cancer occur in women with no family history
· Breast cancer screening saves lives. Mammography is the most effective screening tool used today. Talk to your doctor about scheduling your exam as well as regular self exams for early detection.
October is breast cancer awareness month, the second most common cancer in women. Raising awareness increases early detection and promotes healthy lifestyle habits that can reduce risk and save lives.
Part of prevention is understanding risk factors that increase the likelihood of breast cancer developing. Some factors we cannot change such as being female, age, and family history of breast
cancer. However, there are some factors researches have identified which are controllable and could impact breast cancer risk.
Body weight can affect breast cancer risk after menopause. Research shows being overweight or obese increases blood levels of estrogen and can increase risk of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer by 70%. Insulin levels are also higher in overweight women which could increase risk further. Losing weight after menopause and maintaining a healthy weight throughout adulthood can help lower risk of breast cancer.
Evidence is increasing that physical activity is important for cancer prevention. Studies show women who do not exercise have a 25% increased risk of breast cancer compared to women who do exercise. Women’s Health Initiative found brisk walking as little as 30 minutes 3-5 times per week reduced breast cancer risk by 10%. Additional exercise produces even greater reduction in risk and could have
beneficial effects on weight management and cardiovascular health.
Research has established a clear link between alcohol consumption and increased risk of breast cancer. Published in the International Journal of Cancer this month, a study following over 300,000 females for 11 years found women who consume 2-5 alcoholic drinks daily have a 1 1/2 times the risk of breast cancer compared to women who do not drink. The risk increases with the amount consumed. Women are advised to consume less than one drink per day, defined as 5 oz of wine, 12 oz of beer, or 1.5 oz of liquor.
Many studies have examined eating habits and breast cancer risk, and at this time much evidence is conflicting. Some studies have found increased breast cancer risk in women who ate more red meat and processed meat. A diet low in fat and high in fruits and
vegetables might have protective benefits.
The consumption of soy has been quite controversial in breast cancer research. Soy, which includes tofu, tempeh, edamame, soymilk, and miso contain phytoestrogens, compounds that mimic estrogen in the body. Some studies have found consuming soy can increase cancer cell growth. However, Asian countries where soy consumption is very high, have the lowest rates of breast cancer which could indicate protective benefits from eating soy.
Until the research becomes more clear the American Cancer Society and American Institute for Cancer Research recommends consuming soy in moderation and avoiding supplementation of soy. Moderation is defined as 1-2 servings of soy daily, about 1 cup of soy milk, 1/2 cup edamame, 1 oz soy nuts, or 1/3 cup tofu.