Understanding breast cancer


Breast cancer is an uncontrolled growth of breast cells. To better understand breast cancer, it helps to know how any cancer can develop. Cancer occurs as a result of mutations, or abnormal changes, in the genes responsible for regulating the growth of cells and keeping them healthy. Normally, the cells in our bodies replace themselves through an orderly process of cell growth: healthy new cells take over as old ones die out. But over time, mutations can “turn on” certain genes and “turn off” others in a cell. That changed cell gains the ability to keep dividing without control or order, producing more cells just like it and forming a tumor.

Understanding what you can do to reduce your breast cancer risk is very important for every woman. Some risk factors, such as family history, cant be changed. However, there are lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk.

Lifestyle changes have been shown in studies to decrease breast cancer risk even in high-risk women. According to Mayo Clinic, you can take the following steps to lower your risk:

(1) Limit alcohol: The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol — including beer, wine or liquor — limit yourself to no more than one drink a day.

(2) Dont smoke: Accumulating evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women. In addition, not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.

(3) Control your weight: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.

(4) Be physically active: Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer

(5) Breast-feed: Breast-feeding may play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect.

(6) Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy: Combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer.

(7) Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution: Medical-imaging methods, such as computerized tomography, use high doses of radiation, which have been linked with breast cancer risk. Reduce your exposure by having such tests only when absolutely necessary....

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