Breast Cancer Awareness: You Don’t Want To Ignore These 5 Risk Factors
October marks the month of Breast Cancer Awareness — a month that is dedicated to educate people about the biggest cancer killer for women, a month that encourages you to get tested, a month that informs you of the risk factors.
While it is super important to support the cause through the pink ribbons and fundraiser marathons, it’s also significant to use the month as an excuse to get yourself checked.
According to the Breast Cancer India statistics, it is one of the most common cancers for women in Indian cities and second most common in rural areas. If detected within Stages 1 and 2, the survival rate is pretty good. But for that, YOU need to know if you need to get tested.
Here are 5 risk factors of breast cancer that you need to keep in mind this month – these are the signs you need to look out for!
1. Family history of breast or ovarian cancer
This goes without saying… if your mother or grandmother have had breast or ovarian cancer in the past, the risk of you developing it is higher.
This means that your family is passing on a certain mutated gene (BRCA gene mutation), which increases your changes of developing the cancer. That’s why testing for the gene is highly recommended!
2. Excess alcohol intake
Alcohol increases the body’s estrogen levels, along with the other several hormones in your system that basically aggravate breast cancer. The risk is a lot higher in women who do not intake enough folate, aka, Vitamin B.
According to research, women who usually have approximately 3 drinks per week are at a 15% higher risk for breast cancer. Plus, all you teens who drink are likely to develop benign lumps — psst, you shouldn’t BE drinking anyway!
3. Never been pregnant
Women who haven’t been pregnant before 30, have a higher risk of breast cancer. This is mainly because breast cancer is directly related to the estrogen hormone. In simpler words, once you’ve had a baby, your breasts apparently mature, if not, they’re still sensitive to higher levels of estrogen…aka, a trigger for breast cancer.
4. ‘Dense’ breasts
Let’s break this down in simpler terms for you — your breast tissue consists of milk glands, ducts, fatty tissue, and supportive tissue aka dense breast tissue. When you have more dense tissue as compared with fatty tissue, that’s when you have dense breasts.
How is this a trigger for cancer? Apparently, it is difficult to detect breast cancer when denser tissue is present. Plus, the cancer is known to spread rapidly with dense breasts.
5. Period before age 12
If your first period visited you before the age of 12, there is a higher risk of developing the cancer. This is mainly because the raging hormones hit your body early, and there is a massive gap between the start of puberty and pregnancy.
Given that your breast cells are formed during adolescence, they remain immature until your first pregnancy.