Despite its high prevalence, breast cancer can be controlled and cured entirely without affecting your life expectancy if diagnosed early. In this article, we will introduce you to the major causes of breast cancer ignored by most people and explain how one can prevent breast cancer effectively.
Breast tissue develops in women during puberty, driven mainly by the changes in the hormones within the body. Later in life and during pregnancy, breasts will get larger till the baby is born, and then they will get ready for breastfeeding.
Breast tissues and growth are very sensitive and dependent on female sex hormones. Among them, progesterone and especially estrogen are the primary female hormones that affect the functioning and development of the breast.
Estrogen and breast cancer:
The more the mammary glands are exposed to estrogen, the higher the risk of developing breast cancer, especially cancer known as adenocarcinoma.
In general, the central role of estrogen is to promote the development of the mammary gland tissues in young women and the growth of the mammary ducts, which are milk passageways. On the other hand, we have estradiol, an active form of the estrogen hormone that increases the size of the breast. The ovaries usually secrete estrogen in the first half of the menstrual cycle, but recent studies have shown that breast tissue may also produce estrogen.
Due to the critical effect of estrogen on the growth and development of the mammary glandular structure, any factor such as contraceptive drugs or multiple pregnancies that increases the exposure of the breast to this hormone can also increase the risk of breast cancer.
What are the significant causes of breast cancer that most people ignore?
The first set of factors is those that a person cannot change or have an impact on, such as:
Having a family history of breast cancer
The length of a woman’s reproductive period
Having breasts with dense tissues
History of breast cancer in first-degree male relatives (father, brother, or son)
Having breast cancer on one side
History of non-cancerous breast lesions and problems
Having a history of radiotherapy
Having a family history of breast cancer:
When there is a history of breast cancer in your first-degree relatives, such as your mother, sister, or daughter, you may also have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. If a person’s first-degree relatives have developed breast cancer before the age of forty-five, or if their breast cancer has been bilateral, the risk would be even higher.
Attention: A Woman whose mother or sister had breast cancer should start breast cancer screening earlier than other people.
With age, the exposure time of mammary gland cells to estrogen will also increase. Although most breast cancers occur after age 50, younger women are not in a safe zone and can also get breast cancer.
The length of a woman’s reproductive period:
Early onset of menstruation, such as experiencing the first menstrual cycle before the age of twelve, or late menopause, which mostly means after the age of fifty-five, can increase the risk of breast cancer due to prolonged exposure of the breast to estrogen produced by the ovaries.
Having breasts with dense tissue:
Dense breasts have higher contents of connective tissues than non-dense breasts because of the number of adipose tissues. Due to these variations in fatty tissues, it is more challenging to study dense breasts on mammography.
Having breast cancer on one side:
Having breast cancer on one side increases the risk of developing breast cancer on the other side.
History of non-cancerous breast lesions and problems:
Lesions such as atypical hyperplasia (a pathological term that addresses the increased number of normal cells in the breast tissue) or lobar carcinoma (benign cancerous involvement of milk-producing cells in the mammary glands) can increase the risk of malignant breast cancer.
Having a history of radiotherapy:
Women who have received chest radiotherapy before age 30 for various reasons (for example, to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma or being exposed to multiple radiographic images) will be at higher risk for breast cancer at an older age.
A long time ago, the above drug was used to prevent abortion in pregnant women. Women who took the pill during pregnancy were more likely to develop breast cancer.
Some mutations (any alteration to a normal gene called a mutation) in a person’s genes predispose her to breast cancer. Some of the most well-known mutations are called BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. People who have these genes are more prone to ovarian and breast cancer.
The above items are the underlying causes of breast cancer that cannot be changed. But there are also a set of factors that can be altered and controlled by the individual, as explained below.
Inactivity and obesity
Experience with hormonal therapies
Consumption of alcoholic beverages
Night work shifts
Exposure to some carcinogenic chemical compounds
Inactivity and obesity:
Any increase in body fat mass will increase the risk of breast cancer. Therefore, by improving your physical activities and preventing obesity, you can reduce the risk of breast cancer.
People who have their first pregnancy after the age of 30, people who have not had a successful pregnancy, people who have not breastfed their babies, or women who have not been pregnant are more likely to get breast cancer.
Experience with hormonal therapies:
Hormone replacement treatments in postmenopausal women that last more than five years can increase the risk of breast cancer. These medications are widespread to reduce the risk or even the treatment of osteoporosis. Note that birth control pills can also increase the risk of breast cancer.
Consumption of alcoholic beverages:
Scientific studies have shown that a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer increases with alcohol consumption.
The final words
You can help reduce your risk of breast cancer by exercising, controlling your weight, avoiding stress, reducing your intake of fast food, fatty, and sugary foods, getting enough sleep, and not drinking alcohol and smoking. So, stay healthy!