Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 5th 2015 Contents A31
AVRIL HARRY RN
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers
in women. In fact, the statistics indicate that one
in eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer. It
therefore stands to reason why many persons won-
der what they can do to reduce their individual risk
of developing the disease.
Time and time again during my consultations with
patients I m consistently asked: "Can I do more to
prevent breast cancer?"
The answer is a resounding yes for the most part,
since we can t always control our environment and
we definitely cannot control or alter our genetics.
A recent report by British Journal of Cancer indi-
cated that of 48,385 cases of breast cancer found,
26.8 per cent were due to environmental factors.
Despite this finding, there are certain lifestyle alter-
ations that we can proactively engage in to lower our
risk of developing cancer. One such activity, is our
diet which is a critical tool towards this end.
The report also found that 8.7 per cent of breast
cancer cases were due to women being overweight
or obese; this is particularly relevant and is likely to
occur after menopause.
In the menopausal obese woman, the fats cells
raise oestrogen levels and potentially increases ones
risk of developing breast cancer. Getting fat around
the waist is more risky than putting it on at your
hips and thighs. The major ammunition to counteract
this is to eat healthy and avoid putting on fat as we
Another critical component or contributing factor
in the pursuit of reducing one s risk of developing
breast cancer is based on exercise. Being inactive or
having sedentary type lifestyles potentially increases
risks. There is no known consensus as to how much
exercise you need to protect yourself. The key is to
Although smoking is a factor associated with lung
and other cancers, its role in breast cancer has been
unclear. A recent review by a Canadian panel of
experts showed that both active smoking and exposure
to second-hand smoke increases breast cancer risk
in premenopausal women.
The panel cited evidence from studies suggesting
that women who start smoking at a young age are
20 per cent more likely to develop breast cancer, and
smoking for many years increases risk by up to 30
More than 100 epidemiologic studies have looked
at the association between alcohol consumption and
the risk of breast cancer in women.
These studies have consistently found an increased
risk of breast cancer associated with increasing alcohol
intake. The evidence is so strong that in 2000, the
National Institutes of Health listed the consumption
of alcoholic beverages as a "known human carcinogen"
for the first time.
For persons who may be known to have a family
history of breast cancer, we remain optimistic that
the same notion prevails. Eat healthy, exercise and
limit alcohol intake. Furthermore, by knowing and
understanding your individual risk---which can be
assessed at Pink Hibiscus---helps to facilitate generating
a management plan.
Your level of risk is determined by factors such as
your age, your family s medical history and your
genetic risk assessment analysis.
Although there are some studies that suggest other
factors that are likely to only increase one s risk min-
imally, there remains no convincingly strong evidence
to support these theories, for example, that antiper-
spirant increases one s risk of developing breast cancer.
Similarly that of hormone replacement therapy, which
over the years has been greatly debated and continues
to be debated.
While the causes of breast cancer are innately
complex and may be multifactorial, the fact remains
that by eating healthy, exercising, avoid smoking and
limiting how much alcohol you drink all contribute
to reducing one s risk of breast cancer, thus ensuring
that you have the opportunity to live an overall well
Avril Harry RN, has a BSc in Oncology Nursing
and is a breast care nurse at Pink Hibiscus Breast
Health Specialists, 5 Adam Smith Square, Wood-
brook. Tel: 627-1010 Web site:
Reduce risk of breast
cancer with lifestyle changes
April 5, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt
contributing factor in
the pursuit of reducing
one's risk of developing
breast cancer is based
on exercise. Being
is no known
as to how
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