Risk Factors for Developing Breast Cancer
Established risk factors for developing breast cancer:
Age > 65 years (compared to a 35-year-old woman): Relative risk: >4
Two first-degree relatives (diagnosed at early age): Relative risk: >4
One first-degree relative (diagnosed at early age): Relative risk: 2-4
Abnormal biopsy: Relative risk: 2-4
Abnormal hyperplasia: Relative risk: 2-4
Age at first full-term pregnancy > 30 yrs: Relative risk: 1-2
Age at menarche: < 12 yrs: Relative risk: 1-2
Age at menopause: > 55 yrs: Relative risk: 1-2
Nulliparous: Relative risk: 1-2
Recent oral contraceptive use: Relative risk: 1-2
Recent to past and long-term use of estrogen-progestin therapy: Relative risk: 1-2
Obesity (postmenopausal): Relative risk: 1-2
Relative Risk (RR): Risk of developing breast cancer with risk factor present compared with risk when factor is absent.
RR1 = no difference in risk between groups;
RR4 = women with risk factors are 4 times more likely to develop breast cancer than those without risk factors.
According to a recent research conducted by Yale university, 8 out of 10 people who carry a gene for breast, ovarian or prostate cancer are unaware that they carry the gene. Women with a mutated BRCA1 and 2 genes are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Women with BRCA gene mutations have up to an 80% risk of developing breast cancer by age 80. Likewise, men with the same gene mutation are at higher risk of both breast and also prostate cancer; especially for the more aggressive forms. So, if you have a first degree relative with a prostate or breast cancer, you might benefit from early screening.
Modifiable risk factors and naturopathic treatments for prevention of breast cancer:
- Drinking alcohol:increases women’s risk of developing breast cancer, but many women aren’t aware of this link. A recent study done on women undergoing breast cancer screening has shown that about half the women knew that smoking was a risk factor for breast cancer, and 30% recognized obesity as a risk factor, but only 20% knew that consuming alcohol was a risk factor.
- Breast feeding: reduces a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer. Research shows mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer.
- Lignans: (found in flaxseed in high concentration) have shown to help with estrogen sensitive breast cancer.
- Vitamin C and green tea extract: both act as strong antioxidants and help with suppression of tumor cell growth.
- Garlic: Garlic has high amount of organic sulfides and polysulfides. It stimulates lymphocytes and macrophages, kill the cancerous cells and interferes with tumor cells metabolism.
- Curcumin: is known to have an anti-cancerous activity due to its phenolic substances. Curcumin has been revealed to have an inhibitory action in all phases of cancer growth which are initiation, promotion, and propagation.
- Echinacea: Flavonoids act as an immune-stimulant, they are present in Echinacea. Echinacea also lessens the harmful consequence of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
- Ginseng: ginsenghas shown to restart natural killer cells impaired during chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It also induces macrophages and enhances antibodies formation and helps with breast cancer.
- American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2005-2006. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/downloads/STT/CAFF2005BrF.pdf.
- Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Breast cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment: The expanding role of the Ob/Gyn. Available at: http://www.apgo.org/elearn/APGO_BC_Monograph.pdf.
- Chen J., Stavro P.M., Thompson L.U. Dietary flaxseed inhibits human breast cancer growth and metastasis and downregulates expression of insulin-like growth factor and epidermal growth factor receptor. Nutr. Cancer. 2002;43:187–192
- Galeone C., Pelucchi C., Levi F., Negri E., Franceschi S., Talamini R., Giacosa A., La Vecchia C. Onion and garlic use and human cancer. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2006;84:1027–1032.
- Dmitri O., Levitsky V., Dembitsky M. Anti-breast cancer agents derived from plants. Nat. Prod. Bioprospect. 2015;5:1–16.
- Donaldson M.S. Nutrition and cancer: a review of the evidence for an anti-cancer diet. J. 2004;20:3–19