” Cancer in South Africa is an emerging health problem, with breast cancer being one of the leading cancers in women, following similar worldwide statistics.”
The incidence of breast cancer in women showed slight fluctuation for 70 years before 1973 and remained almost unchanged since 1914. ¹ Then, 40 years ago, there was an abrupt change when breast cancer increased 4-fold; breast cancer is expected to account for more new cancers since 2014 than the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th most common cancers combined.
What are the reasons for the increase?
A delay in having children: If you have your 1st child before age 18, you have 1/3 the breast cancer risk than someone with their 1st child at age 35 or more.
A female breast contains Type 1 and Type 2 lobules (appearance of tree branches), which only fully mature during pregnancy to become Type 3 and 4 lobules (formation of grape clusters). Type 1 and 2 lobules account for more than 85% of all breast cancers. In addition, they have a higher density of hormone receptors which are susceptible to hormone stimulation that can result in cancer mutations.
During pregnancy, lobules mature, and the breast contains 70% Type 4 lobules that are cancer-resistant by the second trimester of pregnancy.
The use of Hormone Replacement Therapy
The use of HRT to mitigate symptoms of menopause and keep women ‘youthful and full of vitality’ for longer is a preventable cause of breast cancer. However, hormones (combined hormone replacement therapy & combined oral contraceptives)increase the risk of breast cancer. The WHO recognises combined hormone therapy as a Group 1 carcinogen.
The claims that were made about HRT are now seen as grandiose,
they are disproven, and the conclusion is that HRT harms women.
A study by WHI on combined hormone replacement therapy (CHRT) in 2002 reported a 26% increase in breast cancer by participants. Unfortunately, the research was stopped prematurely because of the adverse effects CHRT had. It caused half of the women in the USA to quit their hormone therapy, and the occurrence of breast cancer dropped dramatically (7%) in the first year.
The use of oral contraceptives
Using oral contraceptives for four or more years before your first full-time pregnancy (FFTP) increases your risk of developing breast cancer by 52%. The WHO classified oral contraceptives as Group 1 – the highest carcinogenic risk category.
According to researchers, there is a link between induced abortion and breast cancer. (74 international studies show a significant association between abortion and breast cancer).
A history of abortion before eight weeks gestation increases her risk for breast cancer by 30% in women younger than 18.
In Bangladesh, 97% of women are married, 90% had their first child by 20 years of age, no one uses contraceptives or has abortions, and most breastfeed their babies. It’s a population where breast cancer is unheard of. Yet, researchers found that a history of induced abortion increased the risk of breast cancer among these women by 1900%.
A young woman increases her risk of breast cancer in 4 ways if she decides on abortion:
- she creates more places for cancers to start in her breasts,
- she loses the protective effect that a full-term pregnancy would have afforded her
- she increases the risk of future premature delivery
- she lengthens her susceptible window.
Preventable factors largely cause breast cancer. Prof Brian MacMahon (pioneer cancer researcher) wrote prophetically 40 years ago that ” one of the most important contributions of epidemiology to the fight against cancer has been the demonstration that many of the prevalent forms of human cancer are preventable.”
As a young woman, ensure you are adequately informed when you have to decide on taking contraceptives or having an abortion. The same advice applies to menopausal women who consider HRT and are told by doctors: ” It’s safe; just go for your mammogram every year or two.”
It is not safe. Therefore we have a breast cancer pandemic in the world.
Maretha Logie- Traut: Breast cancer rehabilitation / Lymphoedema Therapy OT ZONE
Jannette Botha: Orthotist & Prosthetist; Almost U Prosthetics – Home – Women With Breast Cancer
The breast cancer epidemic: 10 facts. A. PATRICK SCHNEIDER II, CHRISTINE M. ZAINER, CHRISTOPHER KEVIN KUBAT, NANCY K. MULLEN AND AMBERLY K. WINDISCH; The Linacre Quarterly 81 (3) 2014, 244–277