Friday, February 26, 2010

Breast Cancer Diet: Screening to Improve Prognosis

Breast cancer is one of the most common cause of cancer related deaths in females. Prevelence of condition is higher in the developed western countries compared to the Mediterranian and Asia-Pacific region indicating a possibility of dietary and lifestyle factors contributing to improved prognosis. This article provides information about the risk factors associated with this cancer, dietary and lifestyle tips and home based care tips.

What is Breast Cancer?

As per estimates, the condition attributed to over 0.45 million deaths in 2008, which was approximately 13% of all cancer deaths in females and 6% of all cancer related deaths. The incidence of the condition is relatively higher in developed nations like North America and Europe and relatively low in Asia and Africa. This global variation is attributed to life style and dietary differences, which play a crucial role in preventing breast cancer.

The condition is characterized by the growth of a tumor within the breast tissue. It can be classified into different types depending upon the tissue which is affected (i.e. ductual tissue, breast paranchyma or fatty tissue). Further, the condition can be classifed based on the different stages of the progression of the disease.
Global prevelance of
breast cancer
Over the past few decades prevelence of this cancer has increased globally. Modernization, urbanization, sedentary lifestyle practices, changing dietary practices, higher dependence of processed foods, etc are all considered to contribute towards the development of the condition.

Cancer of Breast: Risk Factors and Causes

Here are some common risk factors or predisposing factors that can contribute to the development of the condition,
  • A family history of cancer of the breast. 
  • A high fat diet. 
  • High alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking.
  • Poor physical activity and obesity.
  • Surgery performed on the breast, including breast augmentation or breast enhancement surgery can increase the risk significantly.
Breast Cancer Prevention: Diet for Improving Prognosis
Cancer develops when the DNA gets damaged by the free radicals and hence experts suggest that reducing free radical formation in the body is the primary goal towards prevention and improving the prognosis. Diet plays a crucial role in reducing free radical production and damage,
  • Limit your exposure to dietary, lifestyle, and environmental free radicals. There is a strong correlation between smoking and development of cancer. Avoid consumption of alcohol completely. Limit the intake of saturated and trans-fats. Avoid animal fats and instead opt for a vegetarian diet.  
  • Fresh Fruit intake prevents
    breast cancer
  • Increase your intake of foods that are rich in anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants are free radical scavengers and destroyers. Free radicals are considered to be very harmful as they can result in DNA damage and result in mutation which are known to increase the risk of development of cancers. Fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, etc are good sources of anti-oxidants.  
  • Turmeric is considered to have profound effect on the prevention and control of cancer. Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory properties which are considered to be highly beneficial in the management of cancer. Turmeric is considered to be a natural alternative for NSAIDS.
  • Safforn is another herb which is considered to have strong and beneficial effect in prevention and management of Breast Cancer. 
  • Vitamin C and  Vitamin E are also strong anti-oxidents which help boost immunity and prevent cancers.
  • Avoid trans fats, and saturated fats. Limit your intake of poly-saturated fats. Up the consumption of mono-saturated fats such as olive oil and groundnut oil.
  • Beware of medical prescriptions for breast augmentation or enlargement. 
  • Avoid the excessive usage of oral contraceptives and hormone replacement thearpy. Some studies have shown that use of oral contraceptives for prolonged peroid of time can increase the risk of development of cancer of the breast. 
Screening For Better Prognosis
The first presenting symptom is usually a lump in the breast. Lumps found in the armpit could also be manifestations of carcinoma of the breast. 
  • There could occur, changes in the size of the breast, change in the shape of the breast, inversion of the nipple, discharge from the nipple, or dimpling of the skin over the breast tissue.
  • Occasionally, there could be inflammatory processes, that are characterized by swelling, pain, redness and dimpling. This occurs due to the invasion of the cancerous cells into the lymphatic vessels.
  • Metastasis or spread of the cancerous cells occurs to various parts of the body – lung, liver or bone.
In additional to the dietary protocols, regular exercise is a must, and goes a long way in preventing carcinoma of the breast. Meditation and Yoga therapy along with psychological and family support is crucial in prevention and management of breast cancer.
 American cancer society recommendations for the early detection of breast cancer include,
  1.  Women, 40 years and older, should have an annual mammogram and an annual clinical breast examination by a physician / health care professional. They should also perform, monthly, breast self examination. 
  2. Women aged 20 to 39 years should have a clinical breast examination every 3 years. They should also perform a monthly breast self examination.
Early diagnosis and treatment play a crucial role in the management of cancer of the breasts. Consult your doctor immediately if you observe any of the changes in your skin tone or blood discharge from the breasts.

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