You’ve probably heard the statistics – that one in eight Singapore women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. However, what the statistics doesn’t tell you is that your risk of developing breast cancer is different from that of your friend, colleague, or even your sister. So do you know what impacts your risk of getting the said disease? Here are nine factors worth considering as you assess your own likelihood of developing breast cancer.
1. Your Weight
Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing breast cancer by 30 to 60 percent. Why? It’s because oestrogen is produced in fat cells, and the more fat cells you have the more oestrogen your body pumps out – and that extra oestrogen in your body is what leads to tumour growth that will soon lead to cancer.
2. Your Waist Size
The numbers on the scale isn’t all that matters; where you carry those extra pounds makes a difference, as well. A recent study conducted by the British Medical Journal showed that the most significant factor that boosts a woman’s post-menopausal breast cancer odds is how much her waist size has gone up since her twenties. Studies suggest that weight carried around the waist area is what causes an increased risk of developing the disease.
3. Your Workout Regimen
Exercising lowers your breast cancer risk in several ways. First, working out acts as a natural immune system booster and an anti-inflammatory agent. Second, it lowers the insulin level and the amount of glucose in your bloodstream, and helps your body in breaking down all the excess oestrogen. A research also found that even high-risk women can benefit from boosting their workout routines. That said, experts recommend that you arrange for breast cancer screening in Singapore and exercising an hour a day at least four to five times a week.
4. Your Drinking Habits
A number of studies showed a link between higher risks of developing breast cancer with an increased alcohol consumption. Singapore experts even found that drinking in the years between your first menstrual period and your first pregnancy increases your risk of getting the disease. Simply put, the more you knock back, the higher your breast cancer Singapore risk becomes.
5. Your Diet
Several studies suggest that cutting on red meat consumption and eating more plant-based food is what puts the brakes on cancer cell growth. The power of the veggies comes down to this: cruciferous vegetables (cold weather favourites like cauliflowers and Brussel sprouts) lowers inflammation and helps in balancing oestrogen level, while colourful red-orange produce, such as tomatoes and carrots, are filled with carotenoids that’s been linked to a lower breast cancer risk. Aside from consuming these veggies, limiting your sugar and high-fat dairy intake will also help you stay protected from the disease.
6. Your Genes
Women who carry the gene mutations BRCA1 or BRCA2 has a significantly higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who don’t carry these defective genes. However, there’s another recently identified gene to worry about, especially for younger women. A group of researchers found that in women under age 40, mutations in the PALB2 gene results in an eight to nine times higher risk of developing breast cancer compared to women in the same age group without the said gene mutation. If breast cancer also runs in your family, then it’d be best to consult your doctor about undergoing breast cancer tests.
7. Your Family History
While you may not carry a breast cancer gene mutation, and no one in your family does either, simply having a first-degree relative (your daughter, sister, or mom) with breast cancer still doubles your likelihood of being diagnosed with the disease in the future. In fact, having two first-degree relatives with breast cancer Singapore triples your risk of developing it as well. If either situation occurs on your family, do check in with your doctor and ask if you’re a candidate for earlier or more rigorous screening for breast cancer methods.
8. Your Ethnicity or Race
Although breast cancer strikes women of all racial groups and ethnic backgrounds, black women are 40 percent more likely to die from the disease than their white or Asian counterparts. While experts aren’t sure about the reason for this, there are a few theories to this. Some research show that black women have greater odds of acquiring more aggressive forms of breast cancer, while other Singapore health experts suspect that this disparity exists because of their limited access to medical advances and top-notch screening tools. Whatever your ethnic background is, make sure that you perform regular self-examinations, get yearly mammogram tests and insist on getting the best treatment available.
9. Environmental Toxins
Aside from your lifestyle and ethnicity, some evidences also show and prove that exposure to certain toxins known as endocrine disruptor raises one’s risk of developing breast cancer. These chemicals rack up in the fat cells where they imitate your own natural oestrogen, which potentially leads to tumour growth. Some of the common endocrine disruptors are bisphenol A (BPA), a type of plastic used in cans, containers, and phthalates, a preservative found in cosmetics.
While it’s not the same for everyone, these are some of the factors that you can look into as you asses your own likelihood of developing breast cancer. Make sure to take all these factors into consideration to get a more accurate result of your assessment.