How Much Do You Know About Breast Cancer?

Try this short quiz and find out how much you know about breast cancer. You may be surprised at some of the answers that follow.

1) Women with large breasts have a higher rate of breast cancer than women with small breasts.
o True
o False

2) Young women are more likely to have breast cancer than women over age 50.
o True
o False

3) Exercising regularly can decrease your risk of breast cancer.
o True
o False

4) Gaining weight can increase your risk of breast cancer.
o True
o False

5) Minority women have a higher risk of breast cancer than Caucasian women.
o True
o False

6) Most women who develop breast cancer do not have any known risk factors other than increasing age.
o True
o False

7) The lower inner breast quadrant is where most breast cancers occur, and you should emphasize that area during a breast self-exam.
o True
o False

8) Monthly breast exams at home are all a woman needs to do to check for breast cancer.
oTrue
o False

9) Smoking and/or drinking alcohol increase your risk of breast cancer.
o True
o False

10) Your food choices can affect your risk of breast cancer.
o True
o False

Answers:

1) False. Breast size has nothing to do with a woman’s risk of breast cancer. But a woman with large breasts may have more difficulty feeling a small nodule, meaning detection may be delayed in some cases. This is why regular physician exams and mammograms are so important.

2) False. Most cases of breast cancer occur in women over the age of 50. The cells that cause breast cancer are stimulated by exposure to estrogen over time, and the longer the breast cells are exposed to estrogen the greater the risk of breast cancer. This exposure can be caused by the early onset of menstruation, delaying childbirth until after age 30, late onset of menopause or hormone replacement therapy in the postmenopausal woman.

3) True. Over the past several years dozens of studies have been done on the effect of exercise on women, and one fact came through in the majority: women who exercise regularly and vigorously (at least three to four hours a week) have some protection against breast cancer (an overall 13 percent lower risk). This effect was strongest in the women with the least body fat and may be in part because fat stores estrogen.

4) True. Women who maintain a stable weight (without swings up or down in weight) have a lower risk than those who gain. According to a Harvard medical study, 16 % of postmenopausal breast cancer was linked to weight gain, with the highest risk for women who put on 44 to 55 pounds after adolescence. The lowest risk was for women whose weight remained stable and did not fluctuate more than 4 to 5 pounds during adulthood.

5) False. Breast cancer is more common in Caucasian women, but the risk of mortality is higher if a minority woman is diagnosed.

6) True. While genetics, environment, exposure to toxins and other factors can all increase a woman’s risk, many women with breast cancer do not have any risk factors, which is why regular screening is important for ALL women. Only 5 to 10% of all breast cancer has been linked to genetics (such as a mother or close family member who has it).

7) False. While breast cancer can occur in any area of the breast and all areas should be checked during a self-exam, most breast cancer occurs under the nipple and in the upper outer breast quadrant radiating towards the armpit. With regular exams you can learn what your breasts are normally like and whether any changes have occurred. You should note if any unusual lumps, nipple discharge or bleeding occur, or if there is unusual tenderness or other changes since your last self-exam and let your doctor know.

8) False. While regular self-exams of the breast ARE important, a woman should also have a yearly professional breast exam as well. These professional checks can find lumps that are smaller (and have a better treatment prognosis). Yearly mammogram should start by age 40 when the risk of breast cancer goes up.

9) True. Smoking increases the base cancer rate by 25% compared to non-smokers according to the American Cancer Society. The more a woman smokes, the higher her risk of cancer, and quitting can help decrease this risk. Alcohol intake is another identified risk, and cutting down to 2 drinks or less a day has been associated with improved outcomes.

10) True. According to research done at Johns Hopkins University, 30 to 40 percent of cancers are related to diet and could be prevented by changing what and how we eat. Foods that contain antioxidants help to fight free radicals (toxic byproducts of metabolism that can damage cells and lead to cancer). Foods such as carrots, mangos, broccoli, tomatoes, dark green leafy vegetables, garlic, and even tea all contain antioxidants. Choosing to eat a lower fat diet and to increase fiber can also decrease the risk of cancer. Soy products are also linked with a decreased risk of breast cancer, since they contain isoflavones such as phytoestrogen.


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