WHAT CAUSES BREAST CANCER?

Breast cancer is one of the diseases that affect females around the world. It occurs when cells in the breast tissues change or mutate, interfering with specific functions that facilitate cell growth and division. In normal cases, the mutated cells usually die after a particular period or are attacked by the body’s immune system. However, when some of these mutated cells escape the immune system, they multiply abnormally, forming a cancerous tumor in the breast.

It is not entirely understood what causes breast cancer, but some risk factors may increase your chances of developing the disease. Some of them like lifestyle habits you can control, but you cannot control others like race, age, and genes. The key to lowering your breast cancer risks is to focus your prevention efforts on the controllable risk factors and monitor those you cannot change. Regular Hong Kong breast cancer screening also helps detect the cancerous cells early, allowing for more treatment options.

Controllable risk factors of breast cancer

Controllable risk factors are the lifestyle factors you can change or control.

Being overweight

Breast cancer is one of the diseases whose risks are increased or worsened by being overweight or obese, especially after menopause. What happens is that your ovaries no longer make estrogen after menopause, so most of it comes from the fat tissues. In that case, the more overweight you are, the more estrogen you make which provides food for some breast cancers causing them to grow.

Also, overweight women may have higher blood insulin levels which is also linked to breast cancer. Therefore it is best to exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. If you are overweight, you can reduce your risks by liaising with a dietician to identify a weight loss plan that works effectively.

Alcohol use

According to research, your breast cancer risk may rise with every alcoholic drink you take. A lady who consumes two to three alcoholic drinks a day is at an approximately 20% higher risk of getting breast cancer than a woman who doesn’t. For a woman, moderate drinking should be no more than one drink per day. If you are a heavy drinker, start cutting down to only a few drinks a week and gradually work your way to quitting. You can also ask your physician about healthier ways of quitting alcohol use.

Having breast implants

Silicone breast implants result in scar tissues that make it hard to distinguish problems on regular mammograms. As such, you may require a few more images known as implant displacement views during a Hong Kong breast cancer screening to improve the examination. Anaplastic large cell lymphoma is also a rare type of cancer linked to breast implants.

The use of hormone-based prescriptions

For instance, undergoing hormone replacement therapy during menopause for more than a five-year period can increase your risk of breast cancer. This also involves using some birth control pills such as intrauterine devices, birth control implants, shots, vaginal rings, birth control skin patches, etc. You should examine all the risks and benefits of the birth control method before and discuss it extensively with your doctor before making a decision.

Choosing not to breastfeed

According to research, not breastfeeding also increases your susceptibility to breast cancer. Breastfeeding reduces the risks of breast cancer, especially if you do it more than a year or longer. If you give birth, consider breastfeeding as it also protects your child from many other diseases.

Uncontrollable risk factors

Gender

Women are susceptible to breast cancer, and it is rare in men.

Age

The risks of getting breast cancer increase with age, and most cases of breast cancer occur in women aged 55years and older. Regular breast cancer screening and mammography can help identify the cancerous cells earlier when it is possible to treat them.

Family history

You don’t necessarily need a family history to develop breast cancer, but it increases the risk. You are considered at a higher risk of breast cancer if you have first-degree relatives with the disease. If your family has history of the cancer, you should do regular breast cancer screenings to catch any signs early. You should also consider seeing a genetic counselor and even get tested for breast cancer genes.

Breast density

Women with dense breasts are susceptible to breast cancer. Dense breasts can also make it hard to identify cancerous tumors during a mammogram. Bilateral mastectomy may reduce breast cancer risks.

Genes

According to research, about 10% of breast cancers are inherited through gene mutations passed on from your parents, including the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. You can consult a genetic counselor about getting tested for known breast cancer cells. If you have such mutations, you can undergo surgery or medication to reduce the risks of developing breast cancer.

A previous breast cancer diagnosis

You are more likely to develop new breast cancer in the other breast if diagnosed with breast cancer in the past. However, many people confuse such a case with recurrence, but it is new cancer. You should follow your doctor’s instructions on how to monitor your breasts to stay on top of such a risk.

Exposure to radiation

Radiation exposure also increases the risks of breast cancer. It could be caused by having too many fluoroscopy X-rays in the chest area or being treated with radiation in the same place.

Benign breast conditions

Some noncancerous breast conditions also increase your susceptibility to breast cancer. They include proliferative lesions without cell abnormalities like fibroadenomas, ductal hyperplasia, sclerosing adenosis, radial scars, and multiple papillomas. This also includes proliferative lesions with cell abnormalities like atypical lobular hyperplasia. Ensure your doctor knows if you have a history of such benign breast conditions.

Final words

Be aware of potential risk factors of breast cancer and take the necessary measures to stay on top of them. You can discuss them with your physician and seek advice on what you can do to prevent the disease. If you are at greater risk, your doctor may suggest earlier, frequent and intensive screening to catch any signs early. There are several treatment options available if diagnosed with breast cancer, and the Hong Kong cancer fund comes in handy.

Evie Nasir

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