Wednesday, December 9, 2015

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Statistics show that approximately 292,100 new cases of breast cancer are predicted to be diagnosed among women in the United States in 2015. As in other Western countries, the growth is at 2-3% per year. Although many risk factors are unavoidable (being female, older, have hormones, etc), it is increasingly clear that certain changes in life styles and habits could prevent a large proportion of them.

Breast Cancer via news.vanderbilt.edu
Physical exercise
It doesn’t even have to be a strenuous exercise. Numerous studies have shown that regular aerobic exercise (just brisk walks every day) can prevent a significant percentage of breast tumors. The latest evidence of this comes from a large study published in the journal ‘Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.' Postmenopausal women who walk an average of seven hours a week have a 14% lower risk of developing a tumor in the chest; among the most active, who performed more intense physical exercise, reduce the risk up to 25%.

Along with exercise, a healthy weight reduces the risk of breast cancer. Dr. Miguel Martin, president of the Spanish Research Group on Breast Cancer (GEICAM), says, "The studies on diet are always conflicting, but there is no doubt that such diets 'fast food', rich in fats and typical in Anglo-Saxon countries, increase the risk of breast cancer," he says.

The source of breast cancer is multifactorial, so there is no single cause. However for postmenopausal women, being overweight is usually associated with the hormonal environment that favors the development of breast tumors. Therefore, physical exercise, coupled with a healthy diet and avoiding becoming overweight, is postulated as a good preventive key against the disease.

In recent times some opinions warned that mammography may actually diagnose some 'indolent' tumors, which had never evolved into a more aggressive disease. However, Dr. Martin insists that today it is necessary to take a test for early detection of breast cancer. As indicated by the scientific literature, getting tested every two years, between the age of 50 and 69 years, remains a useful preventive tool.

Preventive drugs
UK was the first European country to authorize the use of the tamoxifen drug to prevent breast cancer in healthy women who are at high risk of developing the disease. "There is no more reason not to use this drug because it could reduce the risk of breast cancer by 50%," says Dr. Martin. "From the point of view, it should be estrategic, tamoxifen or raloxifene, or other drugs such as exemestane," he adds.

Prophylactic mastectomy
The recent case of actress Angelina Jolie, whose both breasts were proactively removed, put the media spotlight to this prophylactic option for women at high risk. However, according to Dr. Martin, the double mastectomy is not the only option. "We also closely monitor that the MRI or the aforementioned tamoxifen is also an option," says the specialist, although he admits that not all women can tolerate the anxiety effect. Removing the ovaries, he adds, also reduces the risk of breast cancer in these women; it is also is a less mutilating surgery, once they come to the childbearing age. The important thing is to raise all the options and let the woman decides.

The relationship of tobacco with breast cancer is not as clear as in other tumors, but the benefits of quitting are so immense that any woman should do it. One of the most extensive works on this issue to date, is that cancer risk is higher among women who smoke. Also, drinking alcohol at an early age begins to loom as a risk factor. "Although the relationship of alcohol is not entirely clear, we do know that a high intake of high gradation drinks is a risk factor," said Dr. Agusti Barnadas.

Other issues
Having children at a younger age and breastfeeding are two other factors that have proven to be protective powers against breast cancer. In addition, avoid endocrine disruptors as much as possible, such as bisphenol and other chemicals. However, in this regard, Dr. Martin admits it is very difficult to avoid individually, because they are ubiquitous substances.
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