Sarah Harding: Dr Hilary outlines breast cancer symptoms
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Notably the second most common cause of death in women – killing up to 32 mums, sisters, aunts, wife and girlfriends everyday – an early diagnosis could help extend breast cancer survival. The Walk The Walk charity stressed the importance of checking your breast tissue – whether you’re a man or woman. Up to 400 men, each year in the UK, are diagnosed with breast cancer.
Eight “common” signs to check for include:
- Any unusual change in the shape or size of one of your breasts
- If one breast has changed and become lower than the other
- Changes in skin colour or a rash around the nipple
- A nipple that has become pulled in or changed its position or shape (retraction of the nipples is normal in some women)
- Puckering or dimpling of the skin
- A lump or thickening within the breast or armpit
- Discharge from one nipple or both
- Constant pain in one part of the breast.
“The earlier breast cancer is detected, the greater the chance of successful treatment and cure,” the charity pointed out.
It’s recommended to examine your breasts monthly on the same day; for menstruating women, this should be “immediately after the end of your period”.
Can breast cancer be prevented?
Walk The Walk stated: “Around 40 percent of cancers are preventable, this equates to nearly 144,000 cases in the UK a year.”
READ MORE: Breast cancer symptoms: The signs to look out for in your breasts
Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking are key ways to reduce your cancer risk.
Risk factors you might not have expected
There is scientific evidence to suggest that “endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in deodorants and antiperspirants may increase breast cancer risk”.
Breast Cancer UK elaborated: “Most antiperspirants contain aluminium salts and some scientists believe these may increase breast cancer risk.
“Other types of deodorants contain perfume and antimicrobial agents such as parabens; some of these are EDCs which may be linked to breast cancer.”
There is “considerable evidence” to show that women who haven’t given birth have an increased risk of breast cancer compared to women who gave birth before the age of 30.
“Having more children, and at a younger age, reduces risk even more,” Breast Cancer UK clarified.
“Some types of plastic bottles contain bisphenols (found in polycarbonate plastics) or phthalates (found in recycled PET plastic recycling code 1), which may be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer,” the charity warned.
“If plastic drink bottles are used repeatedly, and especially if they are heated, these chemicals can leach out into liquids.
“Long-term exposure to these and other oestrogen mimics may contribute to increased breast cancer risk.”
Being “tall” is another risk factor for hormone responsive breast cancer, as tall women are more likely to have higher levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1).
IGF-1 promotes cell division and inhibits programmed cell death, thereby increasing cancer risk.
Other surprising factors that may increase breast cancer risk, according to Breast Cancer UK, include:
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
- Combined contraceptive pill
At present, it’s estimated that 11,000 people in the UK are living with undiagnosed breast cancer.
If you’re concerned about your own breast tissue, do book an appointment with your GP.
It’s handy to do monthly breast check-ups at home, on the same day, so that you can feel what is normal for you.
A free breast cancer screening app, called Becca, is available on the App Store and Google Play.
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