- Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women
- Weight, activity level and breast density may determine the risk
- Lifestyle also plays a major role
"Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women both in the developed and less developed world. It is estimated that worldwide over 508 000 women died in 2011 due to breast cancer," WHO. The World Health Organisation suggests breast cancer as one of the leading causes of mortality in women, especially in developing countries where most cases are detected in the later stages. Some of the common risks factors would certainly include family history, gene mutations like BRCA1, BRCA2 and p53, early menarche, late menopause, first child at a late age or no childbearing, obesity among others.
WHO suggests preventive strategies to stave off risks of breast cancer and to facilitate early detection. Regular screening in the form of self-breast examination, breast ultrasound, mammography and clinical breast examination must be carried out by women of all age. Lifestyle related amendments can also help a great deal in keeping breast cancer at bay or reducing the risks. Various studies suggest that a moderately active lifestyle with at least 30 minutes of exercising five days a week and a balanced diet can go a long way in protecting women from the risk of breast cancer.
Diet and breast cancer
According to Harvard's online health portal, while there is no one big way to reduce the risk of breast cancer, a combination of approaches can make a significant difference. Your weight, activity level, alcohol consumption and breast density may determine your risk of breast cancer. Vitamin D levels also have a significant bearing on the development of breast cancer, "Higher blood levels of vitamin D are associated with a lower risk of breast cancer compared to women with low levels of the vitamin. For example, one study found that women who got plenty of vitamin D in early life - either in their diet or by spending time outdoors, where sun exposure triggers vitamin D production in the skin - had a lower risk for breast cancer," as mentioned on Harvard's online health portal.
"Altering your diet and lifestyle certainly helps in cutting the risk of most ailments. Our daily diet is full of saturated fats, sugar, processed food items and low levels of activity, this needs to be swapped with with a balanced diet that is rich in all food groups and essential nutrients. Green leafy veggies, lentils, pulses, chicken and less consumption of red meat should form the core of our diet. Women should be mindful of their diet and level of physical activity right from a young age. Once you are well-informed and begin to make these lifestyle tweaks, you cut the risk of most ailments," shared Dr. Devavrat Arya, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology at Max Super Specialty Hospital, Saket, New Delhi