Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States, aside from skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among women in the United States this year.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women (after lung cancer). Although African-American women have a slightly lower incidence of breast cancer after age 40 than Caucasian women, they have a slightly higher incidence rate of breast cancer before age 40.
Breast cancer occurs less often among women in Asian countries (such as China and Korea) than among women in Western countries (such as the United States and Europe). In Hong Kong, where the population stands at nearly 7 million, 2,273 new cases were diagnosed in 2004 and 454 women died from it.
Research has shown, however, that breast cancer now is being diagnosed more frequently among women living in Asian countries, especially among younger women. This is an alarming trend. According to breastcancer.org , the researchers don't explain why this is happening. In the past, the diets and lifestyles of Asian women supported a lower risk of breast cancer compared to Western women. The average woman living in an Asian country:
- eats more fresh vegetables
- is closer to her ideal body weight
- is more physically active
- is less likely to drink significant amounts of alcohol
These are some of the same habits that lead to a longer, healthier life. Click here to go to my recent blog on noted Physician Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara and his tips for anti-aging.
It's possible that some of the increase in breast cancer diagnoses is the result of more younger women in Asian countries adopting a typical Western diet and lifestyle. Research has shown that Asian women who live in the United States and have adopted a typical Western diet and lifestyle have breast cancer rates similar to the general U.S. population.
It's also possible that other environmental factors are contributing to the rising rate of breast cancer among women living in Asia. Much has been written about higher levels of pollution that have been brought about by rapid industrial growth in China. Environmental factors such as air and water pollution have been associated with cancer.
The researchers also point out that a large number of women in Asia (70%) don't get regular mammograms. Because breast cancer rates are increasing, Asian governments and healthcare systems will have to work harder to boost awareness of breast cancer risk and the importance of annual screenings.Happily, today, there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States. Since 1990, more and more women have been surviving breast cancer, largely because of early detection through mammography and improvements in treatment.
Take time today to reach out to a Breast Cancer patient. Chances are good you know one personally - in your family, or where you work. Look for one of the many events in your area that are scheduled as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and commit part of your Time, Talent, or Treasure to help fight this disease.
But most importantly, click here to familiarize yourself with the benefits of early detection.
The life you save may be your own.