Does breast size matter when it comes to breast cancer development?

Question: Does breast size matter when it comes to breast cancer development?

“Does having small breasts reduce your risk for developing breast cancer? I am very worried because like all the women in my family, I have large breasts.” -About.com User

Answer: The thought that having small breasts reduces your risk of breast cancer is just one of many breast cancer myths circulating email inboxes and water cooler chats.

There are no large, peer-reviewed studies that support breast size being a factor in breast cancer development.

We do know that obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer and typically, obese women have larger breasts than women at a healthy weight. This may have been ones of the factors that incorrectly fueled this myth.

While breast size may not influence your breast cancer risk, there are several things that do:

Family and Personal History of Breast Cancer

Having a mother, sister, or daughter with breast cancer doubles your risk of the disease. While family history can play a role in breast cancer development, women shouldn’t subscribe to the popular belief that women without a family history of breast cancer aren’t at risk. The American Cancer Society estimates that 70% to 80% of women with breast cancerdo nothave a family history that includes breast cancer.

How Much Alcohol Your Consume

Women who drink alcohol increase their breast cancer risk, and the risk is heightened with the amount of alcohol consumed. Women who drink 2 to 5 drinks a day increase their risk by 1 1/2 times when compared to women who do not drink alcohol. One drink a day only slightly elevates a woman’s risk.

Genes

Genetics may play a role in up to 10% of women diagnosed with breast cancer. Hereditary breast cancer occurs when a mutated gene has been passed down from a parent.

The most common genetic mutation is that of the BRCA gene pair, referred to as “BRCA1” and “BRCA2.” These genes are responsible for regulating cell growth and repairing damaged DNA, but do not properly function if mutated. Those who are found through genetic testing to be carriers of mutated BRCA genes are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Other gene types have been associated to breast cancer, but not as prevalently as the BRCA genes. It is important to note that mutated BRCA genes can be passed down from fathers, not just mothers (one of the more popular breast cancer myths).

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These are just a few of the identified risk factors for breast cancer. To learn more about breast cancer risk factors and how you can prevent breast cancer.

 

Top 10 Strategies to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

What can you doto lower your risk of getting breast cancer? Here are some great ways that you can take control of an important aspect of your health and well being. Raise your defenses against cancer and give yourself a better chance of keeping and maintaining your good health.
Fruits and seeds on a table - ahaddini_maretty/RooM/Getty Images
ahaddini_maretty/RooM/Getty Images

1.  Proper Diet For Good Health

Eat a healthy diet. that is rich in fruits and vegetables, to take advantage of their antioxidants. Doing so can help prevent damage to your tissues. Look for these colors when buying vegetables: green, red, yellow, and orange. When shopping for fruits, choose from these colors: red, green, and purple. Here is a wonderful cookbook about cancer and diet.

Women practicing seated twist pose in yoga class - Hero Images/Getty Images
Hero Images/Getty Images

2.  Exercise For Prevention

There is a link between exercise and breast cancer prevention, as well as prevention of cancer recurrence. Doing regular exercise helps reduce body fat and improves muscle tone.
The American Cancer Society says;“Evidence suggests that one third of the 550,000 cancer deaths that occur in the United States each year are due to unhealthy diet and insufficient physical activity.”

3.  Stay Slim

Having extra weight increases your risk for breast cancer. Many breast tumors thrive onestrogen. Body fat can store estrogen, and on a high-fat diet, your estrogen levels can increase beyond normal. Adopting a low-fat diet or a vegetarian diet can help reduce the amount of estrogen in your body. If you want to try a vegetarian diet, it will eliminate your intake of animal fats and reduce the saturated fats in your diet. Don’t give cancer a good place to hide.

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4.  Stop Smoking

Tobacco smoke carries carcinogens, which can accumulate in fluid around the breasts. Active smoking can greatly raise your risk of breast and lung cancers, and passive smoking may also raise your risk. Get help to kick the habit and improve your long-term health. The evidence is piling up for a link between smoking and breast cancer. It’s another good reason to stop smoking.

5.  Drink Less Alcohol

Regular and modest amounts of alcohol can raise your estrogen levels. Even one drink a day can expose breast tissue to higher hormone levels. Since some breast tumors are estrogen-sensitive, alcohol can increase the risk that the cells in that tissue will become cancerous. Limit your intake to lower your risk. Read more to find out just how muchalcohol is safe to consume.

6.  Have A Regular Checkup

Have a regular checkup and communicate often with your doctor to stay well. Keep good records of your health. Request copies of any test results or screenings. Keep an eye on any changes in your health. Your doctor can help you keep an eye on critical areas, suggest proper diagnostic tests, and refer you to other experts.

Breast Self Exam: Stroke Exam 4 - National Cancer Institute
Breast Self Exam: Stroke Exam 4. National Cancer Institute

7.  Take Advantage Of Early Detection

Screening for breast cancer has the goal of detecting possible tumors before they reach a palpable (easy to feel) size. Larger tumors are more likely to have spread beyond the breast. Detecting a small tumor (cancer at a very early stage) increases the effectiveness of treatment, and improves your chances of survival. Have an annual mammogram starting at age 40, as long as your general health is good. Do your breast self-exam (BSE)(BSE) on a regular basis.

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8.  Hormone Replacement Therapy – Good Or Bad

Current and long-term users of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, according the Feb. 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 287, No. 6: 734-740). HRT was found to raise the number of breast cancers that are ductal and lobular. Talk with your doctor about whether HRT will benefit you, and what alternative therapies would be good to try. Estrogen and progesterone status can affect a diagnosis of breast cancer.

9.  Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Pregnancy and breastfeeding combined with regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding alcohol can help lower your risk. Both pregnancy and breast-feeding reduce a woman’s total number of lifetime menstrual cycles, which is thought to be the reason that this helps lower your risk. Having children before age 30 also reduces your risk of breast cancer.

10.  Maintain Good Emotional Health

A good attitude affects your overall health – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Build a good future for yourself by bringing balance into your life: healthy food and regular exercise combine to fight the blues and pave the way to a good attitude.

 

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