According to the American Cancer Society statistics, breast cancer accounts for nearly one in three cancers diagnosed in American women. Breast cancer affects one in eight women during their lives. Breast cancer kills more women in the United States than any cancer except lung cancer. No one knows why some women get breast cancer, but there are a number of risk factors. The incidence of breast cancer increases dramatically after age fifty, with fifty percent of breast cancers diagnosed in women over the age of forty-five.
Obese women, especially those who are post-menopausal, women who consume excessive amounts of alcohol (greater than two ounces per day) and those who smoke are at increased risk. in addition, there are two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2 that greatly increase the risk. Another risk factor is a personal one – beginning periods before the age of 12 or going through menopause after the age of 55. Other risks include being overweight, using hormone replacement therapy, taking birth control pills, drinking alcohol, not having children, having your first child after age 35, or having dense breasts.
Men also get breast carcinoma. Each year it is estimated that approximately 1,700 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 450 will die. While this percentage is still small, men should also give themselves regular breast self-exams and note any changes to their physicians.
Every year, scientists and doctors worldwide make researches in order to understand better the risks and the evolution of this type of cancer and to find a cure.
For instance, a new Canadian study revealed that aspirin and ibuprofen lower the risk of women developing this type of cancer. The study shows that aspirin accounts for 13 percent less breast cancer cases among women using the drug, while ibuprofen decreases the risk of cancer developing by more than 21 percent. However, the Canadian scientists who conducted this study caution women not to start using these drugs as of yet, because they have strong side-effects. ‘The results of this study just show that women who are taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for other reasons probably have a lower risk of breast cancer,’ said Bahi Takkouche, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, co-author of the study. In medical tests, NSAIDs have been proven to inhibit the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX), which scientists believe plays a crucial role in producing inflammatory mediators that favor the development of mutant cells.
Moreover, according to a study published in Breast Cancer Research, regular activity such as running, heavy housework, demanding yard work, aerobics, was found to reduce a woman’s breast carcinoma risk with 30 percent. The study was conducted over an 11-year period and included 32,000 women who were post-menopausal. However, the activity only protected women if they were neither overweight nor obese. Contrary to other studies, that have shown that light activity had an impact on the risk of breast cancer in the long run, this study shows that light exercise had no effect against breast-cancer.
Furthermore, a recent study has shown that women who suffer from migraines can be at an important lower risk to develop breast carcinoma. Christopher Li, MD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, stated that ‘many of the types of migraine that most women suffer from are known to be hormonally related, and also are important in the development of breast cancer.’ The lead author, Li, said that the mechanism behind this connection is not entirely known, but it has to do with fluctuations in the levels of circulating hormones. He added that migraines have a hormonal component that makes them appear most in women than in men.
The women who take oral contraceptives are more likely to suffer from headaches too. This study was made on 3,412 postmenopausal women aged between 55 and 79 years old. 1,938 were women already diagnosed with breast cancer and 1,474 women without breast cancer. According to the study, the women who reported a clinical diagnosis of migraine had a 33 percent reduced risk of invasive ductal carcinoma and a 32 percent reduced risk of invasive lobular carcinoma compared with women with no history of migraine.