What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that invades surrounding tissues or metastasize to distant areas of the body. Breast cancer occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get breast cancer too.
Factors affecting Breast cancer
A new report from the american cancer society finds that breast cancer rates among african american women in the US are increasing. For decades, african american women had been getting breast cancer at a slower rate than white women, but that gap is now closing.
Dense breasts have less fatty tissue and more non-fatty tissue compared to breasts that aren’t dense. Dense breasts have more gland tissue that makes and drains milk and supportive tissue (also called stroma) that surrounds the gland. Breast density can be inherited, so if your mother has dense breasts, it’s likely you will, too.
One way to measure breast density is the thickness of tissue on a mammogram.
The Breast Imaging Reporting and Database Systems, or BI-RADS, which reports the findings of mammograms, also includes an assessment of breast density. BI-RADS classifies breast density into four groups:
Mostly fatty: The breasts are made up of mostly fat and contain little fibrous and glandular tissue. This means the mammogram would likely show anything that was abnormal.
Scattered density: The breasts have quite a bit of fat, but there are a few areas of fibrous and glandular tissue.
Consistent density: The breasts have many areas of fibrous and glandular tissue that are evenly distributed through the breasts. This can make it hard to see small masses in the breast.
Extremely dense: The breasts have a lot of fibrous and glandular tissue. This may make it hard to see a cancer on a mammogram because the cancer can blend in with the normal tissue.
Still, no one method of measuring breast density has been agreed upon by doctors. Breast density is not based on how your breasts feel during your self-exam or your doctor’s physical exam.
Research has shown that dense breasts:
can be 6 times more likely to develop cancer
can make it harder for mammograms to detect breast cancer; breast cancers (which look white like breast gland tissue) are easier to see on a mammogram when they’re surrounded by fatty tissue (which looks dark)
Women who started menstruating (having periods) younger than age 12 have a higher risk of breast cancer later in life. The same is true for women who go through menopause when they’re older than 55. Over the past 15 years, girls have been starting puberty at younger ages. Breast development has started even earlier than menstrual periods. This unexpected shift has been attributed to the obesity epidemic and broad exposure to hormone disruptors, since a rise in hormones triggers the onset of breast development and puberty. The age when women go through menopause, however, has stayed about the same.
Prof. Rushton has found that blacks reach sexual maturity earlier than whites. By age 12, 19 percent of black girls have full development of breasts, whereas only two percent of white girls do. Black American women menstruate at an earlier age than white women.
Breastfeeding can lower breast cancer risk, especially if a woman breastfeeds for longer than 1 year. There is less benefit for women who breastfeed for less than a year, which is