It’s that time of year again. While we break out our best pink ribbons and accessories to celebrate the survivors of breast cancer, it is also the time to refresh our knowledge on the disease and how to prevent it. African American women are at a higher risk for the deadliest forms of breast cancer. We are also more likely to die from breast cancer, so it’s necessary that we are well informed about this disease.
Who can get breast cancer?
Everyone. To be specific, 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. It does not discriminate, as men can get breast cancer too.
What are the risk factors for breast cancer?
Genetics play an important role in all forms of cancer, especially breast cancer. A family history of breast cancer does increase your overall risk. Carrying the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes put women at risk for breast or ovarian cancer, or both.
Body weight has been linked to breast cancer. Women who are overweight or obese after menopause are at an increased risk for breast cancer. High sugar intake may also be a factor.
Alcohol consumption. That’s right, you can blame it on the alcohol. Studies have shown that women who consume more than three alcoholic drinks a day are at 1.5 times higher risk.
Cosmetic Implants. Women with breast implants are at a 25 percent increased risk for late-stage breast cancer and a higher risk of dying from the illness. Why? While more research is needed, the implants may mask cancer during screenings and possibly change the breast tissue. Just another reason to love your body as it is.
Undergoing radiation treatment for other forms of cancer can increase your risk as well.
Hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
Age contributes to breast cancer risk as well. While young women can also get breast cancer, women over 55 are at a higher risk.
How is breast cancer diagnosed?
Your physician can perform an annual breast exam. This is a painless process, where your doctor manually examines your breast for lumps or abnormalities. This can be performed during your annual physical.
A mammogram, ultrasound, or MRI can be used to detect breast cancer. Mammograms tend to be the go-to method and are a form of X-ray (painless as well).
How can I prevent breast cancer?
While certain risk factors like genetics and aging can’t be prevented, there are other ways to reduce your risk.