At ArkansasMatters.com, we hope to answer some of your most important questions about breast cancer while providing hope for those who have been diagnosed. Listed below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about breast cancer.
Question: Does physical activity reduce the risk of breast cancer?
Answer: A woman who exercises four hours per week reduces her risk of breast cancer. Exercise pumps up the immune system and cuts the estrogen level.
Question: Will a healthy diet keep me from having breast cancer?
Answer: Eat a low-fat, nutritious diet. A high-fat diet increases the risk of breast cancer since fat triggers the hormone estrogen that fuels tumor growth. Fill your diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Question: Does smoking cause breast cancer?
Answer: Most studies have not found smoking to cause breast cancer. One recent study indicated there might be a link. Studies of the relationship of breast cancer to cigarette smoking and second hand smoke are still under study. However, smoking decreases your survival rate once you have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Question: Does alcohol increase my risk of breast cancer?
Answer: One or two drinks a day slightly increase your risk of breast cancer. The more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk.
Question: Are oral contraceptives a link to breast cancer?
Answer: There is an increased risk of breast cancer for women under the age of 35 who have been using birth control for 10+ years.
Question: How often should I do breast self-exam (BSE)?
Answer: You should give yourself a breast self-exam once a month. Look for any changes in breast tissue, such as changes in size, a lump, dimpling or puckering of the breast, or a discharge from the nipple. 8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. If there are any changes in breast tissue, you should notify your physician immediately.
Answer: You are at a higher risk if you began your menstrual cycle before the age of 12, you have no children, you had your first child after the age of 30, or you began menopause after the age of 55.
Question: How often should I go to my doctor for as checkup?
Answer: You should have a physical every year. If any unusual symptoms or changes in your breasts occur before your next scheduled visit, do not hesitate to see the doctor immediately.
Question: Are mammograms painful?
Answer: Mammography (an x-ray of the breasts) compresses the breasts and can sometimes cause a slight discomfort for a very brief time. It may be more comfortable for you to have a mammogram a week after your menstrual cycle when your breasts are less tender.
Question: What kind of impact does stress have on breast cancer?
Answer: Although some studies have shown that stress factors such as traumatic life events and losses can alter the way the immune system functions, they have not provided scientific evidence of a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the two. One area that is currently being studied is the effect of stress on women already diagnosed with breast cancer. Researchers are looking at whether stress reduction can improve the immune response and possibly slow cancer progression.