Pink ribbons may shine a light on breast cancer, but the next steps of getting checked and taking preventive measures are imperative. These eight truths could save your life.
Sleep On It
The next time you pull an all-nighter, remember that it could potentially cost you your life. Working late nights can increase risks of breast cancer, based on the American Journal of Epidemiology, and this is especially true for women pre-menopause. Working a minimum of three hours from midnight to 5am puts you at a 12 percent risk of getting the disease, and the figures rise to a 26 percent among premenopausal women. So put that pen down, it was wait until morning!
All Wired Up
Hold up! Before you throw away your favourite underwired bras, know that is has absolutely nothing to do with the development of breast cancer. Wearing well-fitted bras can lead to greater personal comfort — not to mention, the right silhouette — but there are no biological relations between it and the disease.
Soy of Relief
Contrary to popular belief, soy does not cause breast cancer — it’s actually been proven to help lower the chances of getting the disease. Soy has had a bad reputation for being an estrogen stimulator, which means it increases breast tissues and their development, but emerging research suggests that it can actually reduce recurrence and improve survival. Making sure you get that soy intake, even from as little as once per week, can lower your risks by an 80 percent chance. One iced latte with extra soy milk, anyone?
The Big No-Nos
The three top factors that increase the risk of breast cancer are the things we have no control over: being a woman, getting older, and having a family history of breast cancer. Although some things such as overconsumption of alcohol and smoking can significantly contribute to the development of breast cancer, other things are really not in our hands to decide.
Women are not the only ones at risk for breast cancer, as malignant tumours can exist in men’s breast tissues, too. Similar to the warning signs that women should never overlook, lumps and irregular pain around the breasts are not to be taken lightly. Although the statistics vary every year, an average of one in every 100 breast cancer patients are male.
Estrogen increases as body fat increases — and that fuels certain kinds of breast cancer cells. The average reduction in risk for those who exercise a minimum of 150 minutes a week — and that’s only two and a half hours, or 2 episodes of your favourite television series — is an estimated 12 percent. Shedding 5 to 10 percent of your body weight also slashes your breast cancer risk in half. Looks like that 8am CrossFit class isn’t all too bad after all, huh?
The Clock’s Ticking
About 40 percent of breast cancer patients in Malaysia are diagnosed at the advanced stages. This lands us behind other developing countries like Thailand and India, and with lower survival rates compared to figures of those of developed nations–a five-year survival rate of only 49 percent. Breast cancer is one of the most well-researched forms of cancer, and is largely treatable if detected in the primary stages.
Never Too Young
“The peak age of breast cancer is about 10 years younger in Asia,” says Professor Arlene Chan, a medical oncologist at Curtin University’s School of Medicine in Australia. The Economist Intelligence Unit, and further commissioned by Pfizer, reports in the 2016 ‘Breast Cancer in Asia: The Challenge and Response’ report that Malaysia’s age standardised rate (ASR) of incidence is 38.7 per 100,000 a year, with a mortality rate that is 47 percent greater than the world average. Yikes.