The Facts on Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a disease that causes the cells in the breast to multiply and eventually metastasize if not treated. There are several types of breast cancer, and the cell strain determines the type. Most breast cancers begin in the lobules or ducts. The lobules are milk-producing glands, and the ducts are the tubes that carry the milk to the nipples.
As the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among them. More than 315,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed in her lifetime. Of those, more than 40 thousand will die. That’s one in 9 to 10 women in this country alone. On average, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes, and one woman will die every 13 minutes. Though this form of cancer is rare in men, an estimated 2,500 of them will be diagnosed each year with nearly 20 percent of cases being fatal.
One of the biggest risk factors for breast cancer is increased weight, and more than 60 percent of women in the United States are affected by extra weight or obesity. However, a new study revealed that even a little weight loss may cut breast cancer risk. In fact, as little as a five percent loss after menopause could lower the risk by about 12 percent.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
Each person who is diagnosed with breast cancer can exhibit different signs and symptoms. However, some people may not have any symptoms at all. A routine mammogram or sonogram can detect the cancer. Following are some warning signs that occur in the breast area, but keep in mind that they could also be symptoms of other health conditions as well.
- Lump (including armpit)
- Swelling and/or thickening
- Inverted nipple (that wasn’t there before)
- Nipple discharge, including blood (not breast milk)
- Size or shape change
Why Does Weight Loss Reduce Breast Cancer?
The reason why breast cancer risk decreases with weight loss is due to a reduction in estrogen dominance which is the main cause for breast cancer. Though both estrogen and progesterone levels decline gradually in women with age, an imbalance occurs for many.
Typically around the ages of 35 to 50, a hormonal decline takes place due to perimenopause and menopause. During this time, progesterone is reduced by 75 percent while estrogen only declines about 35 percent. By menopause, total progesterone is extremely low, and estrogen is still present in the body by about half of its pre-menopausal level. This imbalance places women at risk for estrogen dominance.
While premenopausal women synthesize estrogens in the ovaries, adipose tissue (fat) is the main source of estrogen biosynthesis in postmenopausal women. With weight loss, hormones become more balanced and risk for breast cancer declines.
In addition to weight loss reduction, research has also shown that physical activity significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer. In fact, the risk was decreased by 22 percent for all women. The risk decreases even more (27 percent) for women who do high intensity exercise.
For women who have imbalanced hormones, weight loss may be difficult. Cutting calories may not be the only a solution. Instead, a nutrient-dense diet that restores health will help. High intensity exercise, adequate sleep, sunshine, and stress management are also necessary for healthy weight loss and reducing the risk of breast cancer.