Monday, 23 April 2007

More about Breast Cancer

A number of studies have suggested that regular exercise, particularly if it is vigorous, offers some modest protection against breast cancer by modulating estrogen. (Exercise may also be helpful for women with early stage by improving physical function and blunting some of the negative effects of treatments, notably fatigue.)

Physical activity contributes to health by reducing the heart rate, decreasing the risk for cardiovascular disease, and reducing the amount of bone loss that is associated with age and osteoporosis. Physical activity also helps the body use calories more efficiently, thereby helping in weight loss and maintenance. It can increase basal metabolic rate, reduces appetite, and helps in the reduction of body fat.

Dietary Factors
Much research has targeted the role of diet in breast cancer, either as a risk factor or as a factor for patients already diagnosed with cancer.
Fats. Although some studies have found an association between high-fat intake and breast cancer, the most recent data suggest that fat from any source (vegetable oils or animal products) plays an insignificant role in increasing the risk for breast cancer. According to some other studies, in fact, monounsaturated fats (found in olive, peanut, and canola oils) may even be protective. Of some note, a 2003 study reported that young girls who modestly lowered their fat intake also changed their balance of estrogen and other sex hormones to one that theoretically could protect them against breast cancer.
Vitamins and Chemicals in Fruits and Vegetables. Many fresh fruits and vegetables contain chemicals that may be cancer fighters. Experts are investigating whether any specific vitamins, nutrients, or teams of them may be specifically valuable. Examples include the following:

• Isothiocyanates stimulate enzymes that convert estrogen to a more benign form and may block steroid hormones that promote breast and prostate cancers. They are found in broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, rutabaga, turnips, and bok choy.

• Polyphenols, found in apples, onions, and green tea, may be beneficial, although this is controversial. (Chemicals in green tea in particular have been studied for cancer-fighting effects in breast cancer.)

• Lycopene, found in tomatoes may have cancer-fighting properties.

• There is some evidence that foods containing folate (folic acid) may be protective. It is found in avocado, bananas, orange juice, asparagus, fruits, green leafy vegetables, dried beans and peas, and yeast. It is also added to commercial grain products.

• Low levels of vitamin D may increase breast cancer risk, especially in older women. Vitamin D is activated by sunlight and obtained from fortified milk.

• Foods high in vitamin C have also been associated with a lower risk (although there is not evidence of protection from any vitamin supplements, including C or E).

A number of studies have now reported a higher risk for breast cancer with alcohol consumption. A well-conducted 2003 analysis of many of these studies suggested that for every daily drink there was a 7.1% increase in breast cancer. By age 80, women who consumed two drinks a day, have a 10% risk for developing breast cancer. The experts in the study suggested that based on these findings about 4% of breast cancer cases in developed nations may be attributed to alcohol. (Women who drink and who take hormone replacement therapy compound this risk.) Some research indicates that alcohol in such amounts increases levels of growth factors that can stimulate breast cancer cells. It should be noted, that light to moderate drinking has benefits for the heart that most likely outweigh the cancer risk in most women who have no other risk factors for breast cancer or alcohol abuse.

There is a lot of scientific proof that smoking is bad for you. It increases your risk of developing lung and bladder cancer and increases your risk for heart disease, among other serious health problems.
Past studies have shown that the breast fluid of smokers contains many of the cancer-causing substances in tobacco smoke. This has led scientists to suspect that smoking tobacco could also increase the risk of breast cancer. So far, studies have suggested that smoking tobacco does indeed increase this risk.

Several studies have reported that breast feeding is associated with a lower risk for cancer in premenopausal women, and two 1999 studies suggest that some protective effect from breast feeding may last beyond menopause. Some studies also indicate that the longer the mother breastfeeds the better. In fact, some experts believe the high rates of breast cancer in developed countries may be partly due to a lack of or shorter duration of breastfeeding.

Lifestyle Factors. Premenopausal women at elevated risk, usually because of family history, should take as many preventive measures as possible, starting at an early age. The following life-style choices may be beneficial (although this is an area subject to change as more information becomes available):
Exercising and eating healthily is the first essential rule.
• High-risk premenopausal women may choose alternatives to oral contraceptives and, if feasible, consider having children early in their life.
• High-risk postmenopausal women may want to forego hormone replacement therapy.
• Any woman at high risk for breast cancer might consider avoiding alcohol or drinking it sparingly.

I have gathered and compiled the above useful information from various sources, specifically The American Institute for Cancer Research and The National Cancer Society Malaysia in the hope of raising public awareness to this increasingly life threatening disease that attacks women mainly and men as well. Please note that the above information is for general knowledge and reference only. Please consult your doctor or consultant should professional views be required.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very informative indeed. Keep it up swisspalma