A cancer diagnosis can often be directly related to your family medical history, lifestyle, and environment. You cannot control your family medical history, and only some aspects of your environment can be in your hands. There are 5 types of cancer most common in women and there are five risk factors that have to do with diet and habits, the cause of 30% of deaths from cancer. These include a high body mass index, insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables, no physical activity and consumption of tobacco and alcohol, and therefore these can be prevented.
“ Preventive measures are so heavily underutilized by people. And yet they work. Everything in moderation really works, ”says Richard R. Barakat, MD, chief of the gynecology service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
While the overall odds are that two out of three women will never get cancer, 700,000 women for example, were diagnosed with cancer in 2008 (the most recent year for which CDC data is available in the US), most with one of the following types that can give you an estimate of the problem of cancer in women in general:
The 5 most common types of cancer in women
– Breast cancer accounted for 26 percent of cancer cases in women and 15 percent of the 272,000 cancer deaths in women that year. Chances of getting this type of cancer from a woman: 1 in 8
– Lung and bronchial cancer accounted for 14 percent of cancer cases in women and 26 percent of all deaths. Chances of getting this type of cancer from a woman: 1 in 16
– Colon and rectal cancers accounted for 10 percent of all cancer cases and 9 percent of all deaths. Chances of getting this type of cancer from a woman: 1 in 19
– Uterine cancerit accounted for 6 percent of all cancer cases, and 3 percent of all deaths. Chances of getting this type of cancer from a woman: 1 in 41
– Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Cancer accounted for 4 percent of all cancer cases and 3 percent of all deaths. Chances of getting this type of cancer from a woman: 1 in 53
As you learn about the common risk factors for each of these cancers, you can take steps to correct them within your own control.
The risks of breast cancer
Risk factors for breast cancer, the most common cancer in women, include:
Age: Two out of every three women with invasive breast cancer are 55 years or older.
Family history: The risk doubles if your mother, sister or daughter has had.
Race: White women are more susceptible than African-Americans, although African-American women are more likely to die from breast cancer, in part because their tumors can grow faster.
Dense breast tissue
Previous radiation treatment to the chest More
than average menstrual periods (starting before age 12, reaching menopause after age 55)
Not having pregnancies, or having the first pregnancy after 30 years
Taking birth control pills: The risk level returns to normal 10 years after stopping the pill.
Previous treatment with the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES), once it is used to prevent miscarriage
Postmenopausal hormone therapy: Avoiding this treatment reduces the risk of breast cancer.
Excess weight and eating a high-fat diet
Lack of exercise
Drinking alcohol in large quantities: Researchers at the University of Oxford who studied 1.3 million women over a seven-year period found that moderate consumption of Alcohol – just one to three drinks per week – puts you at higher risk for breast cancer.
Lung and bronchial cancer risks
A look at the death rates among people diagnosed with this type of cancer shows just how deadly lung cancer is. Most striking is our ability to reduce those numbers: 80 percent of all lung cancers in women (and 90 percent in men) could be prevented if people don’t smoke; smokers are 10 to 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers. Family history also plays a role. Other risk factors include exposure to:
In addition to following a healthy diet and exercise plan, limiting alcohol consumption can also help keep lung cancer at bay.
Colon and Rectal Cancer Risks
More than 90 percent of colon cancers occur in people 50 years of age and older. Risk factors include:
Personal or family history of colorectal cancer, polyps, or inflammatory bowel disease
Heavy alcohol use
Low-fiber, high-fat diet that includes lots of processed meat and few fruits and vegetables
Early detection is a lifesaver, especially when it comes to colon and rectal cancers. It typically takes 10-15 years for abnormal cells to grow in the colon, which means that if you have regular colonoscopies to detect polyps and remove them before they become abnormal, you can stay on top of this deadly disease.
A new study from the National Institutes of Health also found a promising connection between calcium and dairy food intake and a lower risk of colon cancer. This study, which tracked 200,000 men and 200,000 women over a seven-year period, is important because a larger population sample is used to support smaller studies, with the same results.
Risk of uterine cancer
Hormonal changes, especially related to estrogen, play a significant role in the risk of uterine cancer, also known as endometrial cancer. Risk factors include:
Greater than average number of menstrual periods
Taking estrogen therapy
Obesity and eating a high-fat diet
Past or present use of tamoxifen for breast cancer
Some types of ovarian tumors
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Family history colon cancer
Personal history of breast or ovarian cancer
Some cases of endometrial hyperplasia, a thickening of the uterine wall.
Using birth control pills over a period of time, but ultimately having multiple pregnancies, can help lower your risk.
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Cancer Risks
This disease, which can appear in the lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils and adenoids, thymus or bone marrow, attacks the body’s lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. Risk factors include:
A weakened immune system, especially if related to long-term infection or an organ transplant
Age: Most cases occur in people 60 years of age or older
Exposure to certain chemicals, especially insecticides and herbicides
There are no known prevention methods for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, except to avoid diseases that cause immune deficiency; the most preventable of these diseases is HIV.
Make as many lifestyle improvements as you can, many of which involve simple changes to your diet and exercise habits, that go a long way toward improving your health and helping reduce your risk of these 5 more cancers. common to women.