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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Breast cancer in India: Factors responsible for increasing cases of the malignant disease

The Global Cancer Observatory under the World Health Organization, GLOBOCAN, reports that breast cancer is the most frequent cancer worldwide. In 2022, India recorded 1.9 lakh new breast cancer cases, 13.6% of all cancer incidences. About one lady with breast cancer is found every four minutes. Over 5.25 million Indian women with breast cancer survived in 2022. Globally, breast cancer incidence rises 3.1% year. In 2040, new cases are expected to exceed 30 lakhs worldwide. Asia and Africa’s developing economies would report most of these cases.

Breast cancer is diagnosed earlier in India than in the West. Over 50% of breast cancer affects women aged 25-50, and majority are progressed compared to the West. This is partly because India has a younger population than the West. Over 80% of Indians are under 50. It is commonly known that breast cancer risk rises with age. As the population ages, breast cancer incidence will rise annually.

Dr. Sredharan M, Consultant – Onco-Surgery, Manipal Hospital, Goa, divides breast cancer risk factors into non-modifiable factors like age, genetics, and family history and modifiable factors like lifestyle. Indian breast cancer rates are rising due to lifestyle changes including globalization and rural urbanization.

Due to insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and increased estrogen levels, obesity/overweight may raise breast cancer risk. Post-globalization availability to harmful manufactured foods has caused an obesity pandemic in India. Long hours of sitting and sedentary jobs raise obesity and breast cancer risk.

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in processed food is important. Regular exercise like walking, cycling, dancing, yoga, etc. helps manage weight. While harder to execute, 30 minutes of daily exercise is essential. In urban areas, Western habits have made women smoke and drink more. This can increase the risk of oral cavity, colon, heart, and stroke in addition to breast cancer.

Female workforce involvement has increased since the Industrial Revolution, and many work in high-status, well-paid jobs. The age of marriage and first childbirth have grown due to occupational and societal pressure. Not having a kid or not breastfeeding are also prevalent. Nulliparity, first childbirth after 35, and not nursing increase breast cancer risk by 20-40%.

Breast cancer screening procedures like mammography after 50 and self-examination are especially important for those with a family history of cancer. Discuss the advantages and cons with the oncologist. Prevention is better than cure for most illnesses, including malignancies.


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