What you need to know to protect yourself from breast cancer

Health 2023
What you need to know to protect yourself from breast cancer
What you need to know to protect yourself from breast cancer

Fear of cancer appears in most of us. How to reduce the likelihood of this disease?

What you need to know to protect yourself from breast cancer

Fear of cancer appears in most of us. But recent research has shown that there are a few simple steps we can take to reduce our chances of getting this disease

There is no body part we worry about more than our breasts. The latest statistics show that today the incidence of breast cancer has reached the level of 41,000 per year. And they are still rising, so it's hard for every woman not to think about what, sooner or later, can overtake her. Questions arise: do our habits put us at risk of disease, and what can help us stay he althy and avoid illness? We will tell you about the vital factors that every woman needs to know.

Three factors that put you at risk

Late weight gain. Even a few kilograms can play a role. A recent study of women between the ages of 30 and 50 found that during this period, even a 5% weight gain increases the risk of breast cancer after menopause. The more weight you gain, the greater the risk. But the good news is that maintaining a stable weight has the exact opposite effect. The same study found that women who lost or maintained the same weight between their thirties and menopause had a 40% lower risk of breast cancer than those who gained weight. So, even if you gained weight between thirty and fifty, try to lose those extra pounds at least after menopause - and you will reduce the risk of disease by 20%.

It is also important that you shed the extra weight you gained during pregnancy and not gain weight afterwards.

Daily glass of alcohol

Although one glass a day does not increase the risk by much, drinking this glass is still not worth it, especially if you are exposed to other risk factors. In fact, every year regular alcohol consumption plays a decisive role in 2,000 cases of breast cancer. In a large study of women's smoking and drinking habits, scientists found that having a glass of alcohol every day increased the risk of breast cancer by 6%, but surprisingly, smoking does not seem to play any role in this case. And although 6% is a small figure (and if you drink a glass of wine twice a week, then the figure will be even less), frequent and heavy drinking can have a serious impact on the development of the disease. Drinking three glasses a day increases your risk of breast cancer by 18%.

The conclusion, therefore, is this: the more a woman drinks, the greater the risk of developing the disease. Today, women are drinking more than they used to, and if this continues, it will seriously affect breast cancer rates in the future.

Rejection of the annual examination

Almost half of women still refuse to get mammograms, despite the fact that annual screenings have saved many lives. Therefore, it is important to know that breast cancer deaths have decreased by 21% over the past decade, despite the fact that the percentage of ill women, on the contrary, has increased. For example, in Sweden, the death rate from breast cancer has more than halved since annual screening became mandatory 20 years ago. Each year, mammograms detect breast cancer in more than 7,000 women, and it is estimated that nearly 3,000 of them had a tumor so small that it would be unlikely to be detected during a routine examination. All this means that mammograms detect cancer when the tumor is still small, it is easier to treat it and reduce the likelihood that it will spread.

Annual check-ups can become even more effective thanks to the latest medical developments in this area. Scientists at the British Cancer Research Center have developed a new way to analyze mammograms, which reveals the slightest changes in breast tissue. Using this method, tumors as small as 1 mm in diameter can be detected - ten times smaller than what conventional analysis can detect so far. MRI scans and digital mammograms are being tested for earlier cancer detection in women at risk.

Steps to help protect against cancer

There are several risk factors that no one is able to control yet. The most important thing is age: before the age of forty, the probability of developing the disease is 1 in 200, but by fifty it increases to 1 in 23. And you can’t influence this in any way - just like early onset of menstruation or late menopause, which is also increases the risk of cancer. Therefore, it is worth focusing your efforts on what will help you protect yourself, and not complain about fate and nature.

Go in for sports

Familiar phrase, but the evidence for the benefits of this advice is clear. Exercise not only reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and colon cancer, but also protects against breast cancer. Most studies show that exercising for half an hour 4-5 times a week can reduce the chance of breast cancer by 20-40%.

Eat more vegetables and fruits While scientists have not yet come to a general conclusion about the relationship between diet and breast cancer, the largest study by American doctors found that women who ate fruits and vegetables at least twice a day, the risk of cancer decreased by 17% compared with women who ate fruit only once a day. Another study found that green vegetables like broccoli and spinach and yellow-orange vegetables like carrots are even he althier than fruits. There is also evidence that the high amounts of folic acid found in green vegetables, legumes and natural orange juice may reduce the risk of disease in women who drink a glass of alcohol every day. Fiber can help with this as well. It is still not clear whether soy consumption can reduce the risk. There is strong evidence that Asian women who eat a lot of soy have a much lower rate of breast cancer than European women. However, this requires more research, as some scientists dispute this statement.

Reduce your fat intake

Fat-rich diet doubles risk of breast cancer. A study of 30,000 women found that those who ate more fat, especially saturated fat, were twice as likely to develop breast cancer than those who ate a low-fat diet. The evidence for this link is not yet conclusive, but there is no doubt that fatty foods lead to weight gain, which in itself is a risk factor. But reducing the amount of meat products helps in preventing the disease. Although there is no direct evidence for this, vegetarians are less likely to develop the disease than meat eaters.

Find out your rate

This means - thoroughly examine your chest: how it looks at different moments of the monthly cycle and what sensations you experience in it. Then you can immediately fix the slightest changes. It should be remembered that a huge number of cases of breast cancer are discovered by women during breast self-examination. Any lumps and lumps, swelling in the armpits and collarbones, a change in size (one of the breasts may increase or fall), a change in the shape of the nipple (wrinkling, dimples, suppuration), a rash around the nipple, constant pain in the chest and in the axillary hollows are a sign that it's time to see a doctor.

Most tumors are benign, but one in ten show atypical hyperplasia, meaning that although these cells are not cancerous, they develop abnormally, and the risk of breast cancer is quadrupled as a result. Such a diagnosis means the need for a more serious and regular examination.

Stay away from HRT if possible

Birth control pills and HRT increase the risk of breast cancer. There is a 24% increase in risk while taking birth control pills, but since most users of these pills are young women with a low risk factor, the risk is actually minimal. As soon as you stop taking them, the risk decreases and after ten years it reaches the same level as if you did not take hormonal drugs at all. With HRT, the situation is opposite - the risk increases in direct proportion to the duration of admission. A major recent study found that the risk doubled after a ten-year course of estrogen-progesterone HRT. This study also showed that the risk increases after one to two years of therapy, but it begins to decline with the cessation of hormonal drugs.

Find out your genetic predisposition

Breast cancer most often occurs in women in whose families someone suffered from this disease. In order to find out if you are susceptible to this disease, you need to pay attention to the following factors:

  • do you have three close relatives in the same line who were diagnosed with breast cancer;
  • do you have two close relatives under the age of 60 who have been diagnosed with this;
  • was your mother or sister under the age of 40 diagnosed with this;
  • was your father or brother diagnosed with cancer before the age of 60;
  • do you have a close relative with cancer in both breasts, first diagnosed before age 50;
  • has anyone in your family had ovarian, bowel or breast cancer.

Tell your doctor about your family history and find out if it is possible to do a gene analysis for BRCA1 and BRCA2. It is known that hereditary mutations in these genes can significantly increase the risk of breast cancer. Yet this only applies to 5% of cases.

Breastfeed your babies

With every baby you have, you reduce your chances of breast cancer by 7%, and the earlier you start giving birth, the lower your risk. But it is unlikely that women plan their families based on the principle of protection against cancer. A much simpler solution is to breastfeed your babies. Studies have found that each year breastfeeding reduces the risk of disease by 4.3%. Probably because breastfeeding induces hormonal changes, inhibits ovulation and causes physical changes in the cells of the milk ducts, which increase their resistance to cancer.

New cancer defenses

Antiestrogen drugs given to breast cancer patients can also be taken as a prophylactic by he althy women at risk. This can reduce the risk of disease by a third. There is evidence that protection continues for several years after the drug is stopped. But unfortunately, these drugs have side effects such as vein thrombosis and endometrial cancer. Today, researchers are trying to create new drugs, but with less unpleasant side effects. So far, it is known for certain that ordinary aspirin works well for preventive purposes. In a study of more than 80,000 menopausal women, women who regularly took two or three aspirins a week for 5 to 9 years were found to have a 20% lower risk of breast cancer.

Major advances in treatment

Major advances in radiotherapy minimize side effects, including breast tenderness, multiple tumors, possible damage to the heart and lungs. Intensity-modulated radiation therapy is being developed to deliver variable doses of radiation precisely to the shape and depth of the tumor, thus reducing the impact on surrounding he althy tissue.

Magnetic resonance scanners (MRS) and positron emission tomographs (PET). Scanners will help doctors determine the location of the tumor much more accurately. A PET scan involves injecting a special dye that is taken up by the tumor cells so that they are clearly visible in the picture at an earlier stage.

A new test, developed by a group of American scientists, is designed to analyze the action of gene clusters, also known as metagenes, which appear to control the behavior of tumors and their response to treatment. Thanks to the new test, the treatment will become more effective.

A breast cancer vaccine is already being developed in laboratories. And although it does not prevent the development of breast cancer, it can help the female immune system itself recognize, attack and destroy cancer cells.

New ways to use known drugs. Recent trials have found that adding the drug epirubicin to chemotherapy can increase a woman's chances of getting rid of early breast cancer by one-third. Another study is looking at adding docetal, used to treat women with large tumors, to the standard cocktail of drugs used in chemotherapy to prevent cancer from coming back.

46-year-old Irina was beckoned with all her might - help yourself!

Irina discovered a tumor in the mammary gland herself. But she chose not to know, not to hear the terrible diagnosis. She began to be treated herself, folk methods. I applied a cabbage leaf, smeared a sore spot with honey, drank herbal teas on the advice of a colleague. Meanwhile, the tumor grew and grew, disfiguring the chest and taking away vitality. When Irina nevertheless went to the doctor, the cancer grew to such a size that it was too late to operate. Doctors decided to kill cancer cells with chemotherapy and radiation treatment. And after 4 months, the effect was evident. The tumor decreased, and Irina felt much better. And calmed down. She decided that she had had enough of hospitals and doctors. And she turned to a psychic for help. But a year later she herself came to the doctors with a confession, the tumor grew again, metastases appeared. They say you can't try your luck twice. Irina was convinced of this from her own experience.

Olympic hurdles champion Lyudmila Narozhilenko was only 34 when doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer

At 18, the rising Russian sports star married Swede Johan Enkvist and left the USSR. Abroad, she was recognized as the best Swedish athlete of all time. The fate and sports career of Lyudmila could be envied. But neither she nor anyone else could even imagine that at the very peak of her career she would have to fight not for another medal, but for her life. After numerous examinations, she had to agree to the operation. When Lyudmila woke up from anesthesia, her first words were: "I don't want to live." And five days later, the will to live took over and she began to train. Lyudmila endured hellish pain, the doctors demanded that she leave the path, but she did not give up. A few months after surgery and radiation therapy, Ludmila Enkvist won a bronze medal at the World Championships in Athletics. Not once in the history of sports has a person with such a diagnosis dared to go to the start. This has never happened before in the world of sports! Thousands of Swedes who underwent the same operation as Lyudmila bombarded her with letters, thanking her for giving them the will to live. Lyudmila, who has just received a new citizenship, has become a real symbol of the nation.

Where to go if problems with the mammary gland still appear?

In Moscow, a mammography examination can be done at the district clinic, the district mammological department or the city mammological center.

"Women's He alth Clinic" (former Moscow City Breast Dispensary) - Moscow, st. Goncharnaya, 23, room. No. 9. Directions: Taganskaya metro station (ring), telephone (495) 915 13 90.

Federal Breast Center Moscow, st. Profsoyuznaya, 86, office No. 228−229. Directions: metro station "Kaluzhskaya", telephone (495) 333-94-39.

You can get advice from mammologists, oncologists and psychologists by calling the free all-Russian hotline "For the Sake of Life", operating within the framework of the AVON program "Together Against Breast Cancer" 8−800−200−70−07.

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