October is breast cancer awareness month. Breast cancer is among cancers with high rate of incidence and prevalence. One in eight women catch breast cancer during their lifetime. It is also very important to remember that not only do women suffer from breast cancer, but also men are at the risk of this disease. There are various factors which can put one at breast cancer risk. There is a pressing need for educating the society about these risk factors and the screening programs. Many specialists firmly believe that under no circumstances should someone suffer from high stages of the disease due to the lack of knowledge. In this article we aim to talk about breast cancer and the role of iron in its incidence.

Normal breasts:

At first it is essential to know the features of normal breasts. There is no exact form of breasts to be considered normal and it is different from person to person. However, there are some features which need to be checked, no matter how your breasts look.

  • Breasts can be small, large, sagging, lumpy, or even with different sizes in one person.
  • It is normal for your breasts to feel sore, especially a week before your menstrual period.
  • Stretch marks are a normal skin look.
  • It is normal to have inverted nipples.
  • Your skin color may vary from time to time depending on your lifestyle.

So be sure to know your breasts carefully.

Abnormal breasts:

Keep in mind that in case of any new changes in your breasts you have to be checked by a doctor:

  • Any change in size, shape or color of one or both of your breasts is important.
  • Any redness, thickening, and swelling with or without pain should be checked.
  • Inversion in one or both nipples, if new, needs to be checked.
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin and flaky skin must be considered not normal too.
  • If you ever saw any discharge from your nipples, no matter its amount or color, you must visit a doctor.
  • If you ever felt a new lump in the breasts or under arm you have to visit a doctor. It does not matter if the lump is small or large, is painful or not, or where it is placed.

 

Self-exam saves:

Although self-exam is not considered as a screening method anymore, it is essential to know how to examine yourself to search for changes. Many patients suffering from breast cancer, have found their disease in monthly exams or even by accidental touches by themselves or their partner.

It is important to do a self-exam monthly. Although there is no specific timing for the matter, it has been recommended to do the exam in 3rd day of your period, if you are still menstruating.

Here is a link to a self-exam infographic.

 

Breast cancer screening programs:

In order to find breast cancer in its early stages, screening programs have been introduced. The earlier it is found, the better the prognosis will be. Depending on the country and its epidemiologic status, these programs may also vary. In the UK, women from 50 to 70 are offered to be screened. However, a doctor may order the screening before 50 years of age if the patient is considered as high risk. The screening tests include mammography which is a type of X-ray. Some patients in younger ages may be screened by ultrasonography of breasts or with a MRI. Based on the results, further tests will be ordered if needed.

 

Breast cancer risk factors:

According to NHS, there is no exact cause for breast cancer, but there are some factors that put you in higher risk. Although there are some factors which are not changeable, there are some which may be changed if someone aims to.

Factors that cannot be changed:

  • Age: The older you get, the higher the chance of breast cancer will be!
  • Genetic: some mutations put you in higher risk of breast cancer.
  • History of breast or ovarian cancer in one or in their family.
  • Previous radiation therapy, especially in head and neck area.
  • Dense breasts
  • Reproductive history: Early menstrual periods before age 12 and starting menopause after age 55 raises their risk of getting breast cancer

Factors that can be changed:

Physical activity:  Not until you choose an active lifestyle, can you be sure about lowering your breast cancer risk.

Being overweight or obese: the higher your weight, the more risk you will be at for getting breast cancer.

Reproductive history: Having the first pregnancy after age 30, not breastfeeding, and never having a full-term pregnancy can raise breast cancer risk.

Taking hormones. Certain oral contraceptives and some forms of hormone replacement therapy taken during menopause can raise risk for breast cancer

Drinking alcohol. Studies show that a woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks. Not only the factors above raise your risk for the disease, but also does smoking, poor nutrition and lifestyle put you at risk.

Among nutritional factor, some have more weigh. As an example iron and vitamin d status play a great role in general well-being and health. Some studies have indicated that Haem iron intake and serum iron levels may be positively associated with breast cancer risk. It was concluded in another study that host iron deficiency could be a contributor of poor prognosis in young Breast cancer patients. In another study which studied the role of iron imbalance in breast cancer of pre- and post-menopausal women, iron imbalance was introduced as an independent risk factor in breast cancer with differing mechanisms of action in pre- and post-menopausal women.

Not only iron supplementation lowers the chances of breast cancer, but also it could potentially benefit patients suffering from the disease by decreasing recurrence and incidence rates, and increasing overall survival.

Irofix, as a microencapsulated iron supplement, helps to maintain iron stores in healthy and at risk individuals. It is also suitable for the patients who are going through treatment, to protect them against iron deficiency with the least adverse effects.


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