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Breast Cancer: Do You Know Your Risks and Ways to Decrease Them?

written by Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Oct 18, 2021

Photo Credit: by Anna Tarazevich,
Photo Credit: by Anna Tarazevich,

The incidence of Breast cancer is on the rise globally and is estimated to affect one in every eight females. In the US, it is the most common cancer in females and the second most common cause of death.

There have been numerous studies highlighting the risk factors that increase chances of developing breast cancer.

They include:

1. Increasing Age: The incidence of Breast cancer increases with age with some estimates showing one in every fourteen women over the age of 70 being diagnosed with breast cancer.

2. Increase in weight and a BMI over 30: Especially in post-menopausal women It is postulated that an elevated BMI leads to estrogen dominance (a known risk factor of Breast cancer). This is due to the higher levels of estrogen resulting from peripheral conversion of estrogen precursors from adipose tissue.

3. Breast density: Women with mammographic evidence of breast density, especially if density occupies more than 75% of breast tissue, are at increased risk of breast cancer development.

4. Hormonal factors: This is related to higher levels of endogenous circulating estrogen.

5. Use of Oral contraceptives: The incidence of breast cancer development is more pronounced with current or recent use and appears to diminish within 2-5 years of discontinuation.

6. Early menarche and late menopause: Again this is believed to be due to prolonged circulation of estrogen.

7. Absence of Pregnancy: Females who have never become pregnant or became pregnant at an older age (> 35 years) are at increased risk.

8. Personal or family history of Breast cancer: Especially if positive genetic predisposition and presence of cancerous genetic factors.

9. Alcohol and smoking: Have also both been shown to increase risk of breast cancer development.

10. Exposure to Ionizing radiation: Especially at a young age either for treatment of blood related malignancies such as Hodkin’s Lymphoma or exposure to atomic and nuclear accidents.

11. Vitamin D deficiency has also been shown to be a risk factor as vitamin D can inhibit growth of cancer cells. Coincidentally, its deficiency has also been linked to increased risk of colorectal cancers.

12. Iodine Deficiency: Iodine helps to balance estrogen levels. A deficiency leads to unopposed elevated estrogen levels.

While some of the increased risk factors are beyond an individual's control, there have been several key factors that have actually been shown to decrease a woman’s risk of Breast cancer.

These include:

1. Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding is considered protective as it leads to a delay of re-establishment of ovulatory cycles. The number of pregnancies also decrease risk for similar reasons.

2. Increase in physical activity decreases risk through its role in keeping BMI low while also lowering circulating estrogen levels.

3. Weight Loss: Especially in post-menopausal women. In a meta-analysis of 50,000 women without prior history of hormone replacement therapy, a 20-pound weight loss after menopause was associated with a lower incidence of breast Ca.

4. Low fat diet: Some studies have shown that keeping dietary fat intake to less than 25% of total caloric intake was associated with lower risk.

5. Anti-oxidant rich Diet: A diet similar to the Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts and wild fish was associated with decreased breast cancer risk. A study of 4300 women aged 60-80 years of age who consumed a Mediterranean style diet found them to have lower breast cancer incidence than those in the general population.

6. Maintaining adequate Vitamin D levels has also been shown to decrease incidence of breast cancer. Make sure you are getting an adequate amount of iodine as well. Iodine deficiency was not common in industrialized nations up until recently due to the presence of iodized salt, but many people now use salt alternatives or non-iodized salt such as Himalayan salt. It is important that you ensure adequate iodine intake from sources such as iodized salt, dulse flakes as well as seaweed and kelp consumption.

Are you a woman currently being treated for breast cancer with certain medications that may not be covered under your insurance? Canada Pharmacy Online has many of these medications at a fraction of the cost in the US. Here are a few examples of these medications

Nolvadex (

Evista (

Please always consult your doctors for the right medications or treatment. The above two medications are prescription-required items.



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