Breast cancer, one of the most prevalent cancers amongst women, affects one in every eight women. More women are killed due to breast cancer than any other cancer, except lung cancer in the US. Such bleak figures have caused many researchers to research into the causes, prevention, treatment and management of this cancer. Although the root cause is yet to be fully comprehended, there are many risk factors contributing to its growth. Extensive studies have been made to identify the factors which further increase breast cancer risk in women. One such recent study suggests that the intake of meat may increase breast cancer risk in white women, and not as much in black women.
Risk Factors of Breast Cancer
There are many various factors which contribute to the increased risk of developing breast cancer:
- Age: The chances of developing breast cancer increase as women age. Its risks are elevated after the age of 35- 40 years.
- Genes: The two genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 greatly increase the risk of breast cancer occurrence. Women with a history of breast or ovarian cancer should get checked for breast cancer.
- Personal factors: Menstruating before the age of 12 or having menopause after 55 also increase risk.
- Hormone replacement therapy after menopause.
- Intake of birth control pills
- Alcohol consumption
- Women who have no children or conceive after the age of 30 are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer
- Many studies suggest that physical activity in form of exercise helps to reduce breast cancer risk. Thus immobility increases risk of developing breast cancer.
As mentioned earlier, new studies are being carried out to identify various risk factors that may cause onset of breast cancer. One such study has been carried out by the Cancer Institute of New Jersey which states that the consumption of meat increases breast cancer risk amongst white women. Evidence found in preliminary tests suggest intake of red meat and poultry seems to increase breast cancer risk in white woman, not black.
Senior study author, Dr. Elisa Bandera, an epidemiologist at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey is of the opinion that since most breast cancer studies have been carried out on white women, thus the data is exclusive to white women. The new study by Dr. Bandera also tries to explore the connection between meat intake and cancer development in women of both, European as well as African descent.
Using the questionnaires answered by 976 black women and 873 white women suffering from breast cancer and 1,165 black women and 865 white women without breast cancer, data was gathered and analyzed. Upon analysis it was found that those white women who had high consumption of unprocessed red meat and poultry were at a higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who consumed less. This was especially true for those who had not yet reached menopause. 18 ounces of meat and 7 ounces of poultry consumption each week raised the risk of breast cancer amongst white women. On the other hand, no such association was established between black women and meat consumption.
According to study lead author and research teaching specialist Urmila Chandran, the present research helps to encourage white women to limit their poultry and red meat intake in order to decrease breast cancer risks. This suggestion is in line with the recommendations made by the American Institute for Cancer Research suggesting the intake to be less than 500 grams per week.
Urmila Chandran also adds that although the research helps to identify the association, more investigations are important. Although the association between meat and poultry consumption and increased risk of breast cancer was established, it did not prove a cause and effect relationship.
The results of this research were presented at the American Institute for Cancer Research meeting held at Washington D. C.
Such new findings can greatly help women understand the risk factors and take appropriate measure to prevent breast cancer.
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