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11 Things You Need to Know About Breast Cancer

The numbers are alarming. In the US alone, about 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, encompassing 16% of all female cancers.

  • An estimated 519,000 women died due to breast cancer in 2004.
  • In 2008, around 1,380,000 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Here are some things you need to know about breast cancer.

  • 01Only 5 — 10% of breast cancers are inherited. This means that there are many things and precautions that every woman can do to lower their risk of getting breast cancer.

  • 02Drinking alcohol (beer, wine, and liquor) increases your risk. In fact, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer than women who do not drink at all. Also, a woman who consumes one drink per day has increased risks of developing benign (not cancer) breast disease.

  • 03Overweight and obese women are at greater risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Maintaining a healthy diet and keeping an active lifestyle could help cut your risk.

  • 04Smoking causes a number of diseases and is associated to a greater risk of breast cancer in younger, premenopausal women. In fact, a recent study shows that women who start smoking before they have their first child are at 45% higher risk than those who do not smoke.

  • 05Research shows a link between a lower risk of breast cancer and regular exercise between 4 to 7 hours per week.

  • 06Women with low levels of vitamin D have a higher risk of breast cancer. Vitamin D helps the immune, muscle and nervous systems to function properly. It has also been reported to play a role in controlling normal breast cell growth.

  • 07Women who haven’t had a full-term pregnancy or have their first child after age 30 are at greater risk of breast cancer compared to women who have given birth before age 30.

  • 08Breastfeeding lowers breast cancer risk, especially if a woman breastfeeds for longer than 1 year.

  • 09Recent studies have suggested that women who work on night shifts may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

  • 10Women who started having their menstruation before age 12 have a higher risk of breast cancer later in life. The same is true for women who go through menopause when they’re older than 55.

  • 11Mammograms can save lives. The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms starting at age 40 for women at average risk. Women 50 to 74 years old should be screened every two years. A mammogram is your best defense against breast cancer. It can detect the disease in its early stages, often before it can be felt during a breast exam.

Every woman is at risk for breast cancer — and the risk heightens with age. Be vigilant about breast cancer detection. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump, blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from your nipple, or changes in the skin on your breast or nipple consult your doctor immediately.

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