Understanding Breast Cancer – From Risk Factors to Support
Redd Remedies is mindful of pervasive efforts to spread breast cancer awareness and increase support for breast cancer research during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We fully support these efforts to overcome the disease and its devastating emotional and physical effects. We want to share some information on the disease and our hopes for you and all who are affected by it.
Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in women worldwide, and it accounts for 18% of cancer deaths. About 1% of those who develop breast cancer in the United States are men.
We know there are things you can do to try to prevent cancer and that early detection can make efforts to cure the disease more likely to succeed. We also know that sometimes, despite your best efforts, your genes conspire against you and you develop cancer.
Many risk factors for the disease have been identified. Although the majority of breast cancers are not hereditary, the genes that bring a higher risk for the disease – BRCA1, BRCA2 and TP53 – can be inherited. Women who have a close relative who’s had breast or ovarian cancer are at higher risk. Women with a history of breast cancer or benign breast lumps are more like to develop cancer, as are women with more dense breast tissue, women who have been exposed to carcinogens on the job, and women who are obese, have high sugar intake, are taller-than-average, or consume alcohol regularly, particularly if more than one drink a day. Hormones do factor in, with women who started periods early and women who’ve had hormone replacement therapy at higher risk.
One factor that increases the risk and cannot be avoided is growing older. One that seems to lower the risk is breastfeeding for at least six months.
Breast exams during routine physical checkups and in monthly self-exams often provide the first clues that something is abnormal and additional testing would be beneficial.
Mammograms are commonly used for screening. Research has shown that combining 3D with 2D mammograms reduces false positive findings. Additional screening methods include ultrasound, MRI and thermography.
A diagnosis of any cancer, and particularly breast cancer, is emotionally devastating. Fortunately, there are treatments available; unfortunately, these treatments may cause considerable discomfort and come with risks attached.
There are many factors to consider in selecting a course of treatment, and the decision is best made after careful consideration and discussion with your physician and close friends/family members to weigh the risks and benefits. Deciding a course of treatment can be confusing and difficult. Take time to educate yourself and ask questions.
Research is progressing on methods of treatment that do not result in infertility and on means of overcoming the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy. Targeted drug treatments are being explored, as well as the seemingly helpful effects of regularly taking low dose aspirin.
A healthy, well-balanced diet is believed to lower the risk of developing cancer, especially if fish with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids is consumed once or twice a week.
Some research has shown that stress increases the risk of breast cancer, due to its effects on the hormone levels in the body. We know that stress is unavoidable once a diagnosis of cancer has been made. There are some natural supplements that help reduce the effects of stress, including adaptogens, such as Reishi, Rhodiola Rosea and Panax Ginseng. Social relationships can also have a positive effect on stress, so being open to sharing your cancer journey and allowing others to help and support you will help ease the anxiety that accompanies the disease.
We hope that new discoveries in science and nutrition lead to a reduction and eventual elimination of cancer. We hope that you never have to face this disease, but if you do, that you have a support group that can help ease your anxiety and pain. We hope that you take good care of your body and give it all the nourishment and support it needs. Sometimes cancer comes even to those who try their best to live a healthy lifestyle; if that’s the case with you, our hopes for you and for all who suffer with cancer is that your pain is minimal and that self-acceptance and caring support from those who surround you will envelope you in hope and love.