Breast Cancer and Your Environment: What are the Causes of Breast Cancer?

It is alarming to find out the number of women who have lost their lives to breast cancer all over the world. Even more alarming is the rate that it does. In the 1950s about one in twenty women were diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2009, that has increased to one in eight. Even men are not safe from this type of cancer.

It is tricky to try and pin point in black and white the causes and environmental causes of breast cancer, since in most cases, the causes are not known. Genes definitely contribute to the risk as well as prior history of breast cancer and lesions. However comparative studies in the environmental risks for breast cancer show recurrent similarities. In general, the surest bet to prevent any type of cancer would be a healthy diet and lifestyle, but it can’t hurt to know the specifics on breast cancer risks as well:


breastcancerrisk· Obesity. Being overweight means higher estrogen levels in the body. Estrogen stimulates breast cells growths which encourages cancer to take root. Being obese may also mean that the individual does not maintain an exercise routine which also weakens the immune system of the body. Oxidation or the process of producing free radicals which causes cancer in the body must be fought off with a strong immune system.

· Diet. What you eat and what you take into your system definitely contributes to your risk to cancer. Foods like processed meats and sweets contain preservatives which increase the production of free radicals in the body.

Sweets also contribute to obesity and increase estrogen production in the body. Studies show that eating doughnuts, chocolate, ice cream and cake can increase your risk of breast cancer. Sweets encourage the release of insulin in the body which results in higher levels of estrogen.

· Menopause and Menstruation. These two phases in a woman’s life determines her exposure to progesterone and estrogen. These growth hormones create a high risk for cancer risk in certain levels. Medical specialists agree that those who have had an early menstruation and a late menopause may have a higher risk due to a longer exposure to progesterone and estrogen.

· Hormone Replacement Therapy (HPT). Hormone therapies such as those administered to women after menopause to prevent the effects of menopause and osteoporosis or the thinning of bones increase the risk for breast cancer due to prolonged exposure to estrogen, and sometimes to progesterone as some therapies may include this growth hormone as well. This is especially dangerous since most cases of breast cancer develop after the age of fifty. Therapies with only estrogen also increase the risk for uterus cancer for those who still have their uterus.

· Childbirth. Having children significantly reduces the risk for breast cancer because for nine months, a woman does not have menstruations. Those who have several children means lesser menstrual periods in their lifetimes which mean lesser exposure to growth hormones.
The age during childbirth may also be a factor. Those who have had their first child after 30 may have a higher risk for breast cancer.

· Alcohol. Heavy alcohol drinkers have a higher risk for breast cancer than the moderate drinkers. The more you drink—the greater your risk.
Breast cancer tumors which are known to be fueled by both estrogen and progesterone may pose the greatest risk to women. These type of tumors incidentally are the most commonly found tumors in those diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

Studies have shown in some women that drinking 3 or more alcoholic beverages per day can increase the risk of estrogen-receptor and progesterone receptor positive, or ER+/Pr+ breast cancer tumors by 51%. Think that cutting down your alcohol consumption could lower your risk? That may be true, but women who indulged in one to two drinks per day were still 32% more likely to develop what’s called estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor positive type of breast cancer.

However, there is encouraging news about breast cancer. More women are surviving. Breakthroughs in breast cancer detection and treatment contribute to winning the war against breast cancer. Although getting a diagnosis of breast cancer can be frightening, it’s important to realize that oncologists are having increased success rates with breast cancer treatment—even able to cure the disease in the majority of breast cancer cases.