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Spurt in breast cancer in India: Improper lifestyle, stress main culprits

Dr Sahni shared some useful, yet informative tips on how women can reduce their risk of breast cancer.

Updated: Oct 19, 2015, 17:11 PM IST

Latest research has revealed some daunting facts and alarming cases of breast cancer rise in India.

Of late, a study conducted by an international consortium of researchers, coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, disclosed that breast cancer has taken over cervical cancer as the top killer among Indian women.

Also Read: Top five foods that fight breast cancer

According to Dr S Sahni, Senior Consultant Breast Surgeon, Department of Surgical Oncology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi, major lifestyle issues such as poor diet and eating habits, stress, etc, are behind striking surge in the disease.

In an exclusive interview with Salome Phelamei of Zee Digital, Dr Sahni shared some useful, yet informative tips on how women can reduce their risk of breast cancer.

Excerpts from the interview:

What are the main factors that may contribute to the rise of breast cancer cases in Indian women?

There is no common consensus although it is widely believed that a majority of lifestyle issues including a diet rich in processed foods and the pollution of food and water are the significant contributors to this rising incidence.

Also Read: Breast Cancer Awareness - Seven common myths busted!

The increase in stress levels have also shown to contribute to the growth of breast cancer.

Several research papers have indicated that slow sustained exposure to parabanes ( benzene derivatives) found in Chicago and pesticides can induce changes which lead to development of breast cancer.

The change in diets promotes obesity which has a direct relation to the development of cancer.

Considering the dramatic spurt in breast cancer, should women under 40 years get mammograms?

Mammograms done under the age of 40 have almost no diagnostic value as they are for most part impossible to interpret, hence not usually recommended.

Women with a high risk of breast cancer are now usually advised to undergo a Breast MRI.

Also Read: Six ways to reduce breast cancer risk!

However the most underused tool is self awareness which has to be driven in as it actually saves lives.

How safe is a mastectomy?

Wherever indicated completely safe but it doesn't mean that it is superior operation to breast conservation.

The latter is for early breast cancer and is always accompanied by radiation therapy.

Having a mastectomy is no guarantee that the cancer will not come back. There are a host of other factors that determine the risk of recurrence.

Tips to reduce risks of getting breast cancer -

As there is no single factor that leads to breast cancer, primary prevention is difficult. However, the following may be done to potentially reduce the risk and to try and detect it as early as possible:

  • Exercise and maintain an ideal body weight
  • Healthy diet rich in leafy green vegetables
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco
  • Get regular tests
  • Be breast aware