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News and Tips

What is breast cancer?

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Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, after skin cancer. One in eight women in the United States (roughly 12%) will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer. Encouragingly, the death rate from breast cancer has declined a bit in recent years, perhaps due to greater awareness and screening for this type of cancer, as well as better treatments.

Breast cancer is a disease that occurs when cells in breast tissue change (or mutate) and keep reproducing. These abnormal cells usually cluster together to form a tumor. A tumor is cancerous (or malignant) when these abnormal cells invade other parts of the breast or when they spread (or metastasize) to other areas of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system, a network of vessels and nodes in the body that plays a role in fighting infection.

Breast cancer usually starts in the milk-producing glands of the breast (called lobules) or the tube-shaped ducts that carry milk from the lobules to the nipple. Less often, cancer begins in the fatty and fibrous connective tissue of the breast.

New cases of breast cancer are about 100 times more common in women than in men, but yes, men can get breast cancer too. Male breast cancer is rare, but anyone with breast tissue can develop breast cancer.

What causes breast cancer?

Breast cancer is caused by a genetic mutation in the DNA of breast cancer cells. How or why this damage occurs isn’t entirely understood. Some mutations may develop randomly over time, while others are inherited or may be the result of environmental exposures or lifestyle factors.

Most breast cancers are diagnosed in women over age 50, but it’s not clear why some women get breast cancer (including women with no risk factors) and others do not (including those who do have risk factors).

Some breast cancer risks may be preventable. Of course, you cannot control every variable that may influence your risk. Here are the key breast cancer risk factors to know.

  • Age and gender. If you are a woman and you’re getting older, you may be at risk of developing breast cancer. The risk begins to climb after age 40 and is highest for women in their 70s.
  • Family history. Having a close blood relative with breast cancer increases your risk of developing the disease. A woman’s breast cancer risk is almost double if she has a mom, sister, or daughter with breast cancer and about triple if she has two or more first-degree relatives with breast cancer.
  • A breast cancer gene mutation. Up to 10% of all breast cancers are thought to be inherited, and many of these cases are due to defects in one or more genes, especially the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. (Scientists are studying several other gene mutations as well.) In the U.S., BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are more common in Jewish women of Eastern European descent. Having these defective genes doesn’t mean you will get breast cancer, but the risk is greater: A woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer with a BRCA1 gene mutation, for example, may be more like 55% to 65% compared to the average 12%.
  • Breast changes and conditions. Women with dense breasts or with a personal history of breast lumps, a previous breast cancer, or certain non-cancerous breast conditions are at greater risk of developing breast cancer than women who do not have these conditions.
  • Race/ethnicity. White women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than Asian, Hispanic, and African American women. But African American women are more likely to develop more aggressive breast cancer at a younger age and both African American and Hispanic women are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.
  • Hormones. Women with early menstrual periods (starting before age 12) and late menopause (after age 55) are at greater risk of getting breast cancer. Scientists think their longer exposure to the female hormone estrogen may be a factor, because estrogen stimulates growth of the cells of the breast. Likewise, use of hormone therapy after menopause appears to boost the risk of breast cancer. Oral birth control pills have been linked to a small increase in breast cancer risk compared with women who never used hormonal contraception. But that risk is temporary: More than 10 years after stopping the pill, a woman’s breast cancer risk returns to average.
  • Weight. Women who are overweight or obese after menopause are more likely to get breast cancer. The exact reason why isn’t clear, but it may be due to higher levels of estrogen produced by fat cells after menopause. Being overweight also boosts blood levels of insulin, which may affect breast cancer risk.
  • Alcohol consumption. Studies suggest women who drink two or more alcoholic beverages a day are 1 1/2 times more likely than non-drinkers to develop breast cancer. The risk rises with greater alcohol intake, and alcohol is known to increase the risk of other cancers too. For that reason, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women stick to one drink a day–or less.
  • Radiation exposure. A woman’s risk of developing breast cancer may be higher than normal if she had chest radiation for another disease as a child or young adult.
  • Pregnancy history. Having no children or having a first child after age 30 may increase your risk of breast cancer.
  • DES exposure. Women who were given the now-banned drug diethylstilbestrol to prevent miscarriage decades ago face a slightly increased risk of breast cancer, as do their daughters.

Scientists are studying a slew of other factors to determine what role, if any, they may play in the development of breast cancer. There’s not enough evidence to say for sure whether smoking, dietary fat, or environmental exposure to certain chemicals, for example, ramp up the risk for breast cancer because study results to date are mixed.

KMCH joins the World Preeclampsia Day This May

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World Preeclampsia Day

On the occasion of the inaugural World Preeclampsia Day on May 22, we have signed this proclamation to highlight our support of this worldwide initiative to raise awareness of preeclampsia and its global impact on the lives of mothers, babies, and families.

 

We join together to bring to light the relatively high prevalence and devastating impact of preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP). HDP are not rare complications of pregnancy: indeed, they affect 8-10% of pregnancies worldwide. Globally, preeclampsia and other HDP are a leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death, resulting in 76,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths every year.2 Preeclampsia is a common factor in preterm delivery and accounts for approximately 20% of all neonatal intensive care admissions3. For the mother, complications of HDP cause illness for an extended period of time and are strongly associated with the future development of a range of debilitating non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and renal impairment.4

The World Health Organization has highlighted that the condition has a highly disproportionate impact on low-to-middle income countries (LMIC)5, where over 99% of pregnancy-related deaths occur.6 It is estimated that 16% of maternal deaths in LMIC are the result of HDP.7 It is the leading cause of maternal mortality in the Americas6 accounting for a quarter of all maternal deaths in Latin America and a tenth of maternal deaths in Africa and Asia.5

Too many lives are taken or seriously affected by these disorders, underscoring the importance of symptom recognition and timely and effective response by trained healthcare workers. This is especially true in areas where access to care is reduced.8

With limited understanding of the cause, or preventative or effective treatments, the need for basic and clinical research to advance our medical options and healthcare practices must be prioritized.

We support all efforts that:

  • Call upon governments and health systems to recognize the importance of preventing and treating these disorders;
  • Encourage additional research funding into preeclampsia and related disorders;
  • Prioritize patient and community education and treatment for these disorders;
  • Prioritize education, training, and access to medical resources for healthcare providers;
  • Address prevention through a better understanding of the causes and through access to appropriate, safe, and effective treatments;
  • Encourage collaboration and partnerships between public and private sector organizations to support and advance these goals.

 Working individually and in partnership, we must continue to shine a strong light on preeclampsia and related disorders to ensure that they are minimized and their tragic impact reduced.

 The opportunity to reduce the prevalence of these disorders and their impact on women, infants, families, and communities worldwide is within our grasp.

To know more about this Campaign, click on this link:

World Preeclampsia Day

 

Why You Should Exercise

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It can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%.It’s free, easy to take, has an immediate effect and you don’t need a GP to get some. Its name? Exercise.

Exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had, but for too long we’ve neglected to take our recommended dose. Our health is now suffering as a consequence.This is no snake oil. Whatever your age, there’s strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and even happier life. People who do regular activity have a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers. Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Health benefits

Given the overwhelming evidence, it seems obvious that we should all be physically active. It’s essential if you want to live a healthy and fulfilling life into old age. It’s medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

What counts?

To stay healthy, adults should try to be active daily and aim to achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week through a variety of activities.For most people, the easiest way to get moving is to make activity part of everyday life, like walking or cycling instead of using the car to get around. However, the more you do, the better, and taking part in activities such as sports and exercise will make you even healthier. For any type of activity to benefit your health, you need to be moving quick enough to raise your heart rate, breathe faster and feel warmer. This level of effort is called moderate intensity activity. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but you can’t sing the words to a song. If your activity requires you to work even harder, it is called vigorous intensity activity. There is substantial evidence that vigorous activity can bring health benefits over and above that of moderate activity. You can tell when it’s vigorous activity because you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

A modern problem

People are less active nowadays, partly because technology has made our lives easier. We drive cars or take public transport. Machines wash our clothes. We entertain ourselves in front of a TV or computer screen. Fewer people are doing manual work, and most of us have jobs that involve little physical effort. Work, house chores, shopping and other necessary activities are far less demanding than for previous generations.

We move around less and burn off less energy than people used to. Research suggests that many adults spend more than seven hours a day sitting down, at work, on transport or in their leisure time. People aged over 65 spend 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down, making them the most sedentary age group.

Sedentary lifestyles

Inactivity is described by the Department of Health as a “silent killer”. Evidence is emerging that sedentary behaviour, such as sitting or lying down for long periods, is bad for your health. Not only should you try to raise your activity levels, but you should also reduce the amount of time you and your family spend sitting down. Common examples of sedentary behaviour include watching TV, using a computer, using the car for short journeys and sitting down to read, talk or listen to music – and such behaviour is thought to increase your risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, as well as weight gain and obesity.

Whether it’s limiting the time babies spend strapped in their buggies, or encouraging adults to stand up and move frequently, people of all ages need to reduce their sedentary behaviour.

Crucially, you can hit your weekly activity target but still be at risk of ill health if you spend the rest of the time sitting or lying down. For tips on building physical activity and exercise into your day, whatever your age, read Get active your way.