Today, breast cancer accounts for 26% of all cancers in women and 1% of all cancers in men. Breast cancer kills more women every year than any other type of cancer, except lung cancer. The seriousness of the disease is compounded by the fact that much about it is not known yet; its causes, etiology and treatment methods are still not understood fully. The only method to combat breast cancer is to be forewarned and take proper preventive measures.

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is an abnormal growth of a tumor anywhere in the breast, which will be apparent in the early stages as a lump. This growth remains benign for a certain period of time (which varies from one woman to another). During this benign period, the tumor can be surgically removed and the cancer can be eradicated. However once the cancer begins spreading, there is no way to treat the cancer.

It is essential to know what the telltale signs of breast cancer are. In females, the following symptoms may indicate the onset of this cancer:-

* A sudden lump formed anywhere in the breast,
* Changes in coloration of the skin above the breast,
* Crimpling of the skin below the breast,
* Deformation in the nipple shape,
* Discharge from the nipple, including a bloody discharge in the later stages.

Any unexplained change in the breast shape, color and size, especially in the region of the nipple, requires immediate attention.

The High-Risk Group

Though it may seem alarming to some women, it is absolutely vital to know who the high-risk groups for breast cancer are. This may help you to be extra wary about the disease and take proper preventive measures. Breast cancer is more found in:-

* Women who are overweight and lead a lifestyle with little exercise;
* Women who have had some sort of surgery on the breast, including breast implant surgery;
* Women who have had a family history of breast cancers;
* Women who smoke and consume alcohol;
* Women with a scarred breast tissue, etc.

Breast Cancer Prevention

Though the actual causes of breast cancer are still an enigma, there are certain strongly indicated causative factors that one must avoid. These are given below:-

(i) Maintain your body weight – Breast cancer has been found to be more prominent in overweight women than in slimmer ones. Hence, it is necessary to keep a steady acceptable weight throughout the life. A body mass index of below 25 is quite ideal.

(ii) Consider the genetic factors – Breast cancer is suspected to be produced due to the abnormalities in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. It is necessary to check up on whatever information you can get about these genes. Additionally, if your family has a history of breast cancer, then you must keep up a regular checkup routine with your doctor.

(iii) Eating the right foods – Several foods have a tenacity to ward off cancers. A list of the foods that are advantageous in breast cancer prevention is given below:-

* Cruciferous foods such cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, broccoli, legumes, etc;
* Citrus vitamin C containing foods such as oranges and tomatoes;
* Soy products such as tempeh, tofu, edamame, etc;
* Low carbohydrate foods such as beans and legumes, etc.

(iv) Use the right fats – Fats are known to influence the chances of breast cancer strongly. It is absolutely necessary to stop the consumption of omega-6 fats such as sunflower, safflower and cottonseed oils; while you must increase the consumption of omega-3 fats such as those obtained from fishes such as salmon and tuna. Mono-saturated oils such as canola and extra virgin olive oil are known to possess specific anti-cancer properties.

(v) Abstain from alcoholism and smoking – Being addicted to alcohol or tobacco, especially if you are overweight is one of the surest ways to invite breast cancer. Just one drink of an alcohol a day can increase your chances of having breast cancer by 20 to 25%.

(vi) Be wary of estrogen boosting medicines – Be double skeptical of all drugs that contain estrogen in any form. This includes all the breast enlargement pills, which contain nothing but phyto-estrogens as their active ingredient. Inducing estrogen in the body can create problems with the natural estrogen balance, which will accelerate breast cancer.

(vii) Regular exercise – It has been seen that breast cancer mostly affects women who lead a sedentary and less active lifestyle. Hence, it is necessary for women to maintain a minimum exercise routine per day. It helps if the exercises are chest expansion exercises.

(viii) Be cheerful – Though the effect between mental tensions and breast cancer is not yet proved, there is a strong indication that there may be an underlying factor. Women should maintain a positive outlook. This might play a role in thwarting the onset of the disease.

The above are the basic precautions that you can take against the dreadful breast cancer. Right knowledge and timely care may just go a long way in saving your life if you fall an unfortunate victim of the disease.
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