- The author of this article is Ms. Kanchan Naikawadi, Preventive Healthcare Specialist, Indus Health Plus
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month to increase the wakefulness on this disease globally. The word Cancer does make everyone flinch, but it is not only the disease that scares people, it is the fear of chemo, radiation, expensive bills, and impending doom that people dread more. As per ICMR data, breast cancer is the commonest cancer among Indian women in urban areas where it constitutes more than 30% of all cancers in females. Overall, in urban India 1 out of 22 women are at risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime.
Most people are unaware of effective healthcare measures for breast cancer prevention and early detection and ultimately most of them are left with only option of a long, painful and expensive journey of the treatment, once they have already developed the cancer. Predictive genetic testing using SNP genotyping was conducted on 2000 Indian females by Indus Health Plus. Out of these 2000 females, 63% are from metros & tier-I cities and rest are from tier-II & III cities. Analysis of the genetic testing results show that about 25% of tested females have increased genetic risk for breast cancer; it was 26% for metros and tier – I cities and 23% for tier II&III cities. The chances of developing breast cancer can be minimized by knowing your genetic risk for breast cancer and accordingly making moderate changes in your lifestyle. Not all know about the various risk factors for breast cancers, and those who know often fails to take timely preventive actions. The government and various healthcare institutions are consistently trying to spread awareness and emphasizing on mammography as an important test for early detection of breast cancer for those above 40 years of age and adopting the habit of regular and timely checkups.
6 preventive tips to reduce breast cancer risk:
Eat right – A diet rich in carotenoids can lower your risk for breast cancer. Eat more variety of vegetables and fruits that are rich in carotenoids., Maintain a healthy weight. Avoid processed foods and red meats.
Grain cereals – They contain folates, Vitamin B, which help prevent breast cancer. Products made from wholegrains such as wheat, brown rice, corn, oats, rye, barley, millet, and sorghum are an important part of a healthy diet as they are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, protein, dietary fiber and protective phytochemicals
Beat the stress – Make sure that you have enough time for relaxing. Reading, yoga, meditation and pursuing new hobbies will help you unwind
Avoid smoking and limit alcohol – Smoking is associated with more than one type of cancer. Cancer risk posed by smoking is real for both women and men, so make sure to be nicotine free. Also reduce your alcohol consumption.
Know your genetic risks – Find out if you have a family history of breast cancer. Hereditary breast cancer accounts for around 5- 10% of all breast cancer cases. Around 1 in 500 people carry a germline pathogenic mutation, which can predispose them to hereditary breast cancer.
Regular Screening – Be vigilant and proactive about breast cancer detection, regular preventive screenings methods helps you in keeping a proper check. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a lump or skin color, consult your doctor.