Breast Cancer and the Reasons behind It’s Increasing Prevalence 

Breast cancer is a form of malignancy present within the breast cells. This disease is the most common form of cancer diagnosed among women in the United States. Both men and women can be victims of this illness, but it is more common in women.

Research funding and breast cancer awareness have helped to create advances in the diagnosis and treatment of this illness so that the survival rate of this illness can be increased. Due to all of these measurements, the death rates associated with this disease have decreased.

But the incidence of this illness has risen dramatically during the last four decades. The risk of getting this disease depends upon a different combination of factors. The main factor is being a woman and older. Because almost 90% of breast cancer cases have been found in women who are 50 years old or above.

Moreover, a growing international acceptance of the western style of reproductive and sexual practices has also been associated with the increased prevalence of this illness. Some recent studies have shown that delay in childbearing can increase the risk of this illness; moreover, reducing the duration of nursing a baby can also increase the risk of getting this illness.

winners of a cancer awareness marathon celebrating their victory

See also Can Stress Cause Cancer and Breast Cancer and Smoking.

What is Breast Cancer?

This diagnosis is cancer within the cells of the breast. This illness arises 85% in the lining cell and 15% in the glandular tissues of the breast. At first, the cancerous growth is confined to the duct without any prominent symptoms and has minimal potential for spread.

Over time, malignant cells may progress and attack the surrounding breast tissues, and then it spreads to the nearby lymph nodes and to the other organs in the body. And this widespread malignancy can cause death as well. But If the disease is identified early, the treatment can be highly effective.

Treatment for this illness, consists of a combination of several medical methods, including radiation therapy, surgical removal, hormonal therapy, targeted biological therapy, and chemotherapy are used to treat microscopic cancer which spreads through the blood. Such treatment, which can reduce cancer cell growth and spread, can also save a life.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer:

The symptoms of this illness vary from stage to stage. Malignancy, at the initial stages, does not show any severe symptoms; that’s why most people cannot diagnose it at the first stages. There are a few symptoms that have been observed in people suffering from this disease:

  • Thickening or lump in your chest , which may feel different from the other tissues in the surroundings
  • The appearance, size, and shape of the breast start to change
  • The skin over the breast changes, such as dimpling
  • Nipples start to be inverted
  • The pigmented area of skin surrounding the nipple or breast skin starts to peel, scale, crust, or flake.
  • The skin of the breast starts getting red or pit full like the skin of an orange.

Some of these symptoms can easily be shown in the early stages of malignancy . And if it is diagnosed at the initial stages, the treatment can be very effective.

Risk Factors That Cannot be Changed:

The causes of breast cancer are a combination of different factors. Some of these factors are natural, and nothing can be done to change them. Expect to get treatment at the right time.

  • Getting Older: One of the women’s main causes, of this disease, is getting older. Because most breast cancer cases are reported in women over 50 or above.
  • Reproductive History: A long reproductive history, like starting the menstrual period before the age of 12 and menopause after the age of 55, means the woman has exposure to the hormone a bit longer, which also increases the risk of breast cancer.
  • Personal History of Breast Disease: If a woman has breast cancer once, the chances are higher that she might get it a second time. Moreover, other non-cancerous breast diseases, such as lobular carcinoma in situ or hyperplasia, are also linked with a higher risk of breast cancer.
  • Family History of Breast or Ovarian Cancer: A risk of getting breast cancer for a woman is higher if she has a mother, daughter, or sister, or another family member, either from her mother’s or father’s side, who has breast or ovarian cancer. Moreover, a first-degree male relative with breast cancer can also increase the risk.
  • Genetic Mutation: Certain women may inherit mutations to certain genes like BRCA2 or BRCA1; such women are at higher risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
  • Having dense breasts: Dense breasts can also increase the risk of this diagnosis. Because dense breasts have more connective tissues than fatty ones, making it harder to detect cancer on a mammogram.
  • Previous Treatment or Radiation Therapy: A woman who went through radiation therapy before the age of 30 due to any chest or breast tissue, such as for treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, has a higher risk of this illness when she gets older.
  • Exposure to Certain Drugs: Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a drug that can increase the risk of breast cancer. Between 1940 and 1971, this drug was given to women to prevent miscarriages. A woman who took this drug was reported to have a higher risk of this illness.

Risk Factors that Can be Changed:

While there are some natural causes of breast cancer that are not in the hand of humans to change. But some other risk factors can be changed to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

  • Not Being Physically Active: Women who are not physically active and don’t have a proper workout or exercise routine are most likely to have higher chances of breast cancer than women with healthy lifestyles.
  • Obesity: Overweight women, especially older women, are at higher risk of this disease than women with a healthy weight.
  • Reproductive Practices: The woman who delays their childbearing and has pregnancy after the age of 30 or women who reduce their duration of breastfeeding and who don’t have full-term pregnancy are at higher risk as well.
  • Drinking alcohol: Drinking excessive alcohol can cause various chronic health risks, including breast cancer. Studies have shown that women with higher consumption of alcohol increase their risk of breast cancer. Moreover, other factors like smoking, hormone changes, or cancerous chemicals can also increase the risk.
  • Taking Hormones: some sort of therapy that includes both hormones, progesterone, and estrogen, taken during menopause can increase the risk of this illness when taken more than five years. Moreover, certain birth control pills have also increased the risk.

Reason behind Increasing Prevalence of Breast Cancer

Unlike some other types of cancer that can be caused due to infections like cervical cancer, or human papillomavirus infection, there is no bacterial or viral infection linked to the occurrence and development of breast cancer. Even half of breast cancer cases have been reported in women who do not have an identifiable risk factor of breast factor rather than their gender or older age.

But certain factors like obesity, alcohol consumption, long-term exposure to radiation, family history of cancer, use of tobacco, and postmenopausal hormonal therapy for more than five years can increase the risk of cancer. The major risk factor for this disease is the female gender. Only 0.5-1% of cases of breast cancer have been reported in men. And the treatment for men has the same principles and management as for women.

A family history of breast and ovarian cancer can also increase the risk, but the majority of the cases diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history known of such diseases. But if we talk about the reasons behind the increasing cases of breast cancer. It can be due to women’s unhealthy lifestyles and reproductive decisions these days.

Most women these days don’t like to be pregnant at a young age, and some of these are not breastfeeding during the recommended duration, but studies have shown that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are less likely to have breast cancer. For example, one study (Britt K, 2007) shows that breastfeeding and pregnancy directly affect the breast cells and make them mature and differentiate to produce milk. Researchers found out that these mature breast cells have more resistance to becoming cancer cells than the cells that have not undergone differentiation or are not mature.

Certain behavioral choices can reduce the risk:

  • Prolonged Breastfeeding
  • Early Childbearing and full-term pregnancy
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid exposure to radiation
  • Avoid prolonged use of hormones
  • Avoid exposure to tobacco smoke

If all of these risk factors can be controlled, this can reduce the risk of developing this disease by almost 30%.

Scope of the Problem

In a survey of 2020, there were 2.3 million women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. And among those, 685000 were not able to survive. And at the end of 2020, there were 7.8 million women diagnosed with this illness in the past five years. Which makes it the world’s most prevalent cancer. This disease is the largest cause of death rate in women as compared to any other type of malignancy.

This cancer occurs in almost every country of the world and at any age of women after puberty, but the risk is higher in older adults. Breast cancer mortality has not changed much from the 1930s to the 1970s. But at the beginning of the 1980s, the improvement in survival began as the countries came up with early detection programs combined with a different method of treatment to fight against this disease.

Possible Prevention:

As there are a lot of risk factors like gender and age, which are not in our hands, there are some preventive measures that can not only reduce the risk of breast cancer but also makes you strong and immune to fight against other health conditions as well.

1. Adapting a Healthy Lifestyle:

Women with a healthy lifestyle with a proper diet and exercise have a lower risk of getting this disease. Certain diet plans like a vegan diet or Mediterranean diet can be beneficial in this journey. The Mediterranean diet is mostly plant-based, with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds to increase immunity. Moreover, these diet plans also help in losing weight, especially in people suffering from obesity, a risk factor for this disease. Moreover, regular exercise is also essential with a healthy diet plan to make your body first fight against diseases like cancer. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes daily. Avoid alcohol, especially in your older age, when you are at higher risk of breast cancer.

2. Keep Yourself  Acknowledge With Your Breast:

Today, when breast cancer has become common in the world, it is essential that every woman have complete knowledge about their breast and how to self-examine it. Because women who are familiar with their chests are more likely to examine breast cancer at early stages. Breast cancer awareness may not prevent this disease, but it can let you understand the changes and identify unusual symptoms .

3. Consult to Doctor about Breast Cancer Screening:

If you feel any unusual symptoms after examining your breast, then immediately consult a doctor so that he can begin breast cancer screening exams and other tests, such as mammograms and clinical examinations. Talk to your doctor about screening in detail to get to know the right strategy for you.

4. Limit Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy:

Hormone therapies can increase the risk of breast cancer if done in the long term. Some women have to face severe symptoms during their menopause, and for those women, this illness can provide relief in their menopause symptoms and signs. But to reduce the risk of this illness, use the lowest dose of hormone therapy for a shorter period.

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Bottom Line:

Breast cancer is a form of malignancy present within the breast cells. It is the most common form of cancer diagnosed among women in the United States. Both men and women can be victims of this illness, but it is more common in women. If we talk about the reasons behind the increasing cases of this disease, it can be due to women’s unhealthy lifestyles and reproductive decisions these days.

The causes of malignancy in this area are a combination of different factors. Some of these factors are natural, and there is nothing that can be done to change them like gender, age, family history, reproduction changes, and age.

But some other risk factors can be changed to reduce the risk of this disease, and the most important one is to have a healthy lifestyle and keep yourself active and self-aware.

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