Deodorants, cell phones and 9 other things that put you at risk of breast cancer

We bet you never thought these factors could give you breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a major concern among urban Indian women. The scary part is that there has been a shift in the age group, pointing that even the young are prone to this deadly condition. In the past, it was thought that breast cancer hits women after 40s, but recent data and studies show that it is now prevalent among women in early and late 30s as well. While genetic factors cannot be ruled out, there are various other things that can increase your risk of breast cancer. Here are a few of them:

Iodine deficiency: While some fad diets demand you to go on a low salt diet, remember that they are definitely going to hurt the well-being of your breasts. Studies indicate that deficiency of iodine can be one of the risk factors for breast cancer. In fact, goiter, swelling of the thyroid gland, is usually associated with low iodine level and is a major risk factor for breast cancer. So even if you go low on salt, ensure that you get enough iodine for optimum functioning of the thyroid gland. If you suffer from goiter talk to your doctor and plan the tests needed to rule out the possibility of breast cancer. [1]. Here are five sources of iodine you should know about.

Low frequency of breastfeeding: For mothers who didn't breastfeed exclusively for the first four months or did not breastfeed at all, the chances of suffering from breast cancer increases manifolds. In fact, studies show that breastfeeding provides a kind of protection from this condition. All this because during lactation phase, the estrogen levels are low or in check. This acts as a protective shield for most women by reducing the chances of an abnormal cell division in the breast [2]. Here are eight reasons why breastfeeding is good for the mother.

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Alcohol: Probably your favourite red wine cannot be blamed entirely for your breast cancer risk, but it has the potential to make some cells go haywire and multiply rapidly. Many studies indicate that there is a direct co-relation between alcohol consumption and breast cancer that cannot be ignored. However, other risk factors like low folate diet, hormone replacement therapy, genetics can wreck havoc with consistent alcohol consumption and increase susceptibility to breast cancer [3]. Here is all the you need to know about alcohol abuse.

Smoking: Smoking doesn t do any good to your body, and why will it be partial to your breasts. In fact, it is more dangerous for post-menopausal women who have been smoking all their lives [4]. Here are 25 things that happen to your body when you smoke.

Stress: Yes, stress can do you a lot of harms and one of them is to increase your risk of breast cancer. When stressed, a hormone called cortisol is secreted, which is notorious for many reasons. It leads to oxidative stress and exposes your body to carcinogens easily. In fact, the more you age, stress exposes you to breast cancer risk even more [5]. Read, never do these seven things when stressed.

Antiperspirants: While not many theories support this claim, some studies indicate that overuse of antiperspirants loaded with metallic substances like aluminum could be harmful to the breast. Since the metal cannot be absorbed by the tissues, studies, indicate they settle on the breasts and can cause problems over a period of time [6]. Also read, do antiperspirants make you smell worse?

Cell phones: Overexposure to any kind of radiation can increase one's risk of cancer. Excessive use of cell phones can be a risk factor too.

Pills and hormone replacement therapy: Use of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy when done for a purpose might serve well, but can put you at risk of breast cancer too. Remember, a high level of estrogen is responsible for initiating an abnormal cell division in the breast and influence other hormones in the body to do the same. So if you are going overboard with either, stop and get yourself checked.

High cholesterol: If you though your cholesterol levels only affect the functioning of your heart, you are wrong. High levels of LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol increase risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women [7].

Chemicals in our foods: Pesticide in farm produce can also be a culprit when it comes to putting your breasts at cancer risk. These carcinogens make their way to your tissues, leading to the abnormal growth of cells. If organic produce is not an option for you, remember to wash your vegetables and fruits thoroughly before consuming [8].

Abdominal fat: Obesity is far more life threatening than we realise. And abdominal obesity can lead to various problems like infertility, PCOD and also increase your chances of breast cancer. So get up and get moving -- sweat it out before it is too late [9].

Did you know even homemade food can cause food poisoning? Click here to find out how!


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[1] Eskin, B. A. (1970). Section of Biological and Medical Sciences: IODINE METABOLISM AND BREAST CANCER*, . Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, 32(8 Series II), 911-947.

[2] Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer. (2002). Breast cancer and breastfeeding: collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 47 epidemiological studies in 30 countries, including 50 302 women with breast cancer and 96 973 women without the disease. The Lancet, 360(9328), 187-195.

[3] Singletary, K. W., & Gapstur, S. M. (2001). Alcohol and breast cancer: review of epidemiologic and experimental evidence and potential mechanisms. Jama,286(17), 2143-2151.

[4] Baron, J. A. (1984). Smoking and estrogen-related disease. American journal of epidemiology, 119(1), 9.

[5] Sephton, S. E., Sapolsky, R. M., Kraemer, H. C., & Spiegel, D. (2000). Diurnal cortisol rhythm as a predictor of breast cancer survival. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 92(12), 994-1000.

[6] McGrath, K. G. (2003). An earlier age of breast cancer diagnosis related to more frequent use of antiperspirants/deodorants and underarm shaving.European Journal of Cancer Prevention, 12(6), 479-485.

[7] Furberg, A. S., Veier d, M. B., Wilsgaard, T., Bernstein, L., & Thune, I. (2004). Serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, metabolic profile, and breast cancer risk. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 96(15), 1152-1160.

[8] Wolff, M. S., Toniolo, P. G., Lee, E. W., Rivera, M., & Dubin, N. (1993). Blood levels of organochlorine residues and risk of breast cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 85(8), 648-652.

[9] Bruning, P. F., Bonfr r, J. M., van Noord, P. A., Hart, A. A., de Jong Bakker, M., & Nooijen, W. J. (1992). Insulin resistance and breast cancer risk.International Journal of Cancer, 52(4), 511-516.

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