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Breast Cancer-3


Welcome to the third part of educational series on breast cancer. In second part, we learned about various risk factors – modifiable and non-modifiable.

Que: Now, Dr. Chiragbhai, can you tell us what should the majority of women do?

Ans: Modifiable risk factors that we saw last time are in our control, and we must try to reduce them. They are also good for overall health and reduce risk of heart problems, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and many other cancers as well. These include:

  1. Alcohol – avoid alcohol. Women seem to be more vulnerable to risks of alcohol and even one to two drinks per day increases risk substantially.
  1. Exercise – regular exercise is clearly shown to reduce risk of breast cancer. Most middle class and up people in India have a vehicle, and very few exercise daily. Hard chores of home are generally done by maids in most households.
  1. Diet – low in fat, and high in fruits, vegetables and grains seems to reduce risk. It is important to note that increasing intake of fruits and other components is essential and not just reducing fat. Various low fat diet options are available, and they should not take place of natural foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains. In short, traditional Indian diet of grains and vegetables, with addition of fruits is what we need to follow. Reduce sweets and fried foods. Many of our homes have fried foods as snacks. Consider adding more fruits to snack time. Ghee has not been evaluated in Western studies, which is likely different compared to oil and butter. It is prudent, however, to use everything in moderation.
  1. Weight – obesity is an independent risk factor, and one that can be controlled with early institution of lifestyle changes noted above. Once established, it is comparatively difficult, but not impossible to lose weight. Marked weight gain after age 18 (over 25 kg), type not uncommonly seen in urban Indian women especially after childbirth, is also an important avoidable risk factor.

It is important to remember that earlier we establish a healthier lifestyle, more are the benefits. Since tissue development occurs early in life i.e. before youth, majority of the risk also likely gets established earlier in life. There is some evidence to suggest this theory, from various studies. One example is that of tobacco use, which if started at an early age, needs less number of years to result in mouth cancer or heart attack in case of smoking. This issue is very important, as more of our children and teenage are now adopting western life style, such as increasing obesity, high fat diets, sedentary life and others.

Next time we will talk about what can we do to Prevent breast cancer, in HIGH RISK women.

Dr. Chirag A. Shah; M.D. Oncology/Hematology (USA),
Diplomate American Board of Oncology and Hematology.
Shyam Hem-Onc Clinic. 402 Galaxy, Near Shivranjani, Opp Jhansi ki Rani BRTS, Ahmedabad. 079 26754001