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Breast Cancer: Development, Risk Factors & Prevention Video

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  • 0:01 What Is Breast Cancer?
  • 0:40 Why Does Breast Cancer Occur?
  • 2:36 What Are the Risk Factors?
  • 3:49 How to Help Prevent…
  • 6:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Do you know why breast cancer occurs? What factors affect its possible development? This lesson will tell you as we look into what breast cancer is, its many risk factors, and preventative strategies.

What Is Breast Cancer?

It is the second most common cancer in women and the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in women. It is breast cancer, a malignant growth of abnormal cells within the breasts. The American Cancer Society estimates that in the U.S., for the year 2014, close to 300,000 new cases of varying types of breast cancer will be diagnosed and around 40,000 women will die from breast cancer. Men can also get breast cancer, but it is about 100 times more common in women.

Why Does Breast Cancer Occur?

So, any type of cancer development is a malignant (or bad) transformation of what used to be normal cells in the body. It is like a Transformer car going from being an innocent little street hybrid and with the push of a button turning into a big, bad monster. It used to be good, but no more.

To put it another way, when you inhale a cold or flu virus, you are attacked by something akin to a foreign invader brutalizing your land (your body) from the outside. But a cancer cell is like a normal person living in a country who then decides to transform into a terrorist and harm the country he calls home. You know how terrorists of any religious or political ideology completely misinterpret a text of some sort and have a really morphed mindset as a result?

Well, cancer cells skew the language and book of cells, called DNA, thanks to something we call mutations. These mutations in DNA allow once-normal cells to morph into really bad terroristic cells that then multiply and thereby pass on their skewed thoughts (the mutated DNA) to their offspring just like many terrorists pass on wicked thoughts to their children.

These offspring then multiply even more, causing the cancer cells to mass together into a community we call a lump, a malignant tumor - a.k.a. cancer. Eventually, some of the offspring get tired of being in one area hanging around their old folks and begin to spread out (i.e. metastasize) to other places around the body to cause more growth and terroristic harm in their new locations. Again, metastasis is the spread of cancer cells around the body.

What Are the Risk Factors?

There are many risk factors for this kind of malignant transformation of cells in your breasts. Some of them include:

  • Being a woman, especially over the age of 50
  • Having a family history of breast cancer - if a mother or a sister has had breast cancer, then your risks are up to four times higher than normal. Male relatives with this cancer also increase your risks of developing it.

Other concerns include:

  • Having relatives, especially first-degree relatives, who have had ovarian cancer
  • Inheriting genes that predispose for, but do not guarantee, breast cancer development is another risk factor - namely, it is the mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
  • Furthermore, starting your period before age 12 or starting menopause after 55 years of age
  • Never having a child or having your first child after age 30-35
  • Obesity or drinking alcohol
  • Lack of consistent exercise

... have all been associated with an increased risk for developing breast cancer

How to Help Prevent Breast Cancer

Now, the list I mentioned isn't complete, and it already looks pretty impressive and daunting in its scope. But there's much you can do to help try and prevent, or at the very minimum, catch this disease early. Just like with terrorists, there's a lot you can do to try and stop them and catch them early.

Make sure to engage in breast cancer screening, the details of which are left for another lesson. Screening for breast cancer is like using binoculars or using intelligence to spot terrorists early and stop them in their tracks before they get too close or too aggressive. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. When fighting bad guys, it's best to be strong and fast. Your body benefits from exercise in many different ways, as well.

Importantly, exercise helps you fight obesity, a risk factor for breast cancer. Another way to fight this is to eat fewer calories, less fat, and more grains, fruits, and vegetables. Furthermore, limit drinking alcohol, another one of our risk factors. Just like a drunk soldier can't really defend against an attacker very well, an inebriated body suffers much harm that can lead to cancer (not just breast cancer, by the way).

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