People today are surprised as well as shocked to find an increasing rate of young women with breast cancer. Breast cancer is more common in women younger than their 40s and even 30s than society thinks, and in reality, the mutation has no age requirement. The fact that more and more women under the age of 40 are rapidly developing breast cancer shows that not only has the number of young advanced breast cancer patients increased a significant amount throughout the years, but that it should not be dismissed so easily just because of one’s age.
Though that has been said, it tells us nothing about why exactly this is occurring. Breast cancer is a tumor that starts from the cells of the breast. All people, be it male or female, are born with some breast cells and tissue that have the possibility of developing into cancer. Though it isn’t yet known what exactly causes the cancer, there are certain risk factors linked to the disease. Some risk factors include drinking, smoking, and diet, while others include one’s family history and one in which that can’t be undone.
Breast cancer risks seem to be higher amongst women with a family history of breast cancer but there are other factors. Typically the case is from genetics but other possibilities such as the delay of births as well as our daily exposure to toxic chemicals can serve as a risk. People are going on about their lives without knowing that their life style and choices can hugely affect their risks of developing cancer(s), even if it may be nothing. But though that can be changed, family history and genetics cannot.
It isn’t surprising that one of the major causes of developing or carrying the BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation is due to hereditary factors and/or genetics. Though it is unclear to what extent family history plays a role in the rising rate of breast cancer patients, it has been shown to be “… a predictor of uptake of cancer preventive procedures by women… ” (6) Those with relatives that have or been affected with breast cancer (the high risk group) are more likely to undertake medical preventions than those without family history of the disease (the low risk group).
Many of the carriers of the “breast cancer gene” also have a heightened risk of developing cancer. Both Diane LeBleu and the “beautiful and talented” (5) Christine Applegate have so much in common, not just having been relieved of not having to wear a bra anymore after undergoing a bilateral mastectomy (with a reconstruction), but the fact that that they both have first-degree relatives with cancer. “When cancer became real for me, not just theoretical, the fact that now both my sister and I had rapidly growing malignant tumors in our breast in our 30s WAS significant…,” (5) states Lebleu in “What to Tell a Daughter Who Carries the ‘Breast Cancer Gene'”.
She and Applegate are faced with the fear of having to tell their daughters, nieces, granddaughters, and maybe even sons and grandsons about their heightened risk of developing breast cancer. An inheritance that passes on from generation to generation that nobody would choose to want. These women are just two of the many young women affected with cancer today through genetics and having no choice whatsoever.
They signify the truth of breast cancer and that is that in reality, this disease is affecting those that are in their prime and “in an otherwise very healthy population” (1). Though family history plays a huge role in one’s risks of developing breast, in this particular age group (under 30 or so), the cause may have something to do with the hormonal relationship. Women who began having periods early (before the age of 12) have a slightly higher risk due to their longer lifetime exposure to the hormone estrogen.
And those who haven’t yet had children, or have conceived after the age of 30, have a higher risk of breast cancer than those who have been pregnant many times at an earlier age and in turn actually reduces the risks of breast cancer. Being pregnant lowers a woman’s number of lifetime menstrual cycle and just may be the very reason for this effect. Lichtefeld, the cancer society’s deputy chief medical officer, says that, “One thing that famously distinguishes women of this generation is that they’ve been delaying births. ” (1) But not only could it be due to the delays of birth but the effects of birth itself!
He goes on to state that, “… most of the cancer increase involves tumors that are sensitive to the hormone estrogen, levels of which soar during pregnancy. ” (1) The decision of more and more women deciding to have children later in life may be the very thing that could be triggering the onset of breast cancer nowadays. Another possible cause may be due to toxic chemicals in the environment and in our daily lives. The exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation are connected to breast cancer risks through its way of altering the biological process.
Women are constantly exposed to chemicals every time they put on their make-up, clean the house, or just use plastic. Everyday household items and products can turn out to be health hazards in the long run. People come into contact with many chemical laced products and goods that can range from plastic bottles and lunch boxes; hormones in foods, cosmetics, and their house hold cleaners without having a clue as to what it may cause to their health. According to Breast Cancer UK (a British charity), “… the chemicals in these products typically end up inside a woman’s body.
On a daily basis, people may be rubbing hormone-distributors which make their way into the body through the skin. We are also drinking and eating these chemicals. ” (3) Ever since synthetic material was introduced and became routinely used in our household products along with personal care products, the breast cancer risk among women has risen as a result. Rather than due to one’s genetics or hormonal relationship, it may just be because of the increasing amount of exposure to toxic chemicals all around us that has also increased the rate of advanced breast cancer, or all three.
There is a rising rate of young women with advanced breast cancer compared to past years. Not only could the heightened risks of this disease be due to hereditary factors but the hormonal relationship of this generation as well as the constant exposure to toxic chemicals on a daily basis. Just as one could inherit brown eyes from a parent, there is also the possibility of inheriting the gene mutation of breast cancer. But rather due to genetics, one’s life style and choices can undoubtedly affect the risks of developing breast cancer.
Women who decide to conceive children at an older age have a heightened risk due to their exposure to the hormone estrogen. Likewise, the exposure to chemicals in the environment and our lives in general can affect the rising rate of breast cancer today as the hazardous chemicals are found to be behind the considerable increase of breast cancer rates. What’s even more surprising isn’t that there is an increasingly occurrence in young women nowadays with the disease is the obvious and sad lack of research on teen and young adult cancers.
More people should come to realize that a disease should not be taken for granted, especially cancer, and that in truth, it’s more common in young people than they may think. Woman of all ages should be wary about this certain matter. Just as Alison Henning said, “If you think that something’s wrong or feels funny, follow through yourself. Don’t allow your doctors to dismiss it just based on your age. You have to be your own advocate. ” (1)
Bibliography 1. Knox, R, perf. “Younger woman have rising rate of advanced breast cancer.” National Public Radio : Washington, DC, 27 Feb 2013. Radio. 2. Moran, A. “Long-term outcomes of breast cancer in women. ” British Journal of Cancer/ 0920. 10 (2010): 1091-1098. Web. 2 Apr. 2013. 3. Nordqvist, Christian. “Everyday Chemicals Raise Breast Cancer Rates. ” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl. , 1 Oct. 2012. Web. 9 Apr. 2013. http://www. medicalnewstoday. com/articles/250929. php 4. “What are the risk factors for breast cancer. ” Cancer. org. N. p. , 22 02 2012. Web.
10 Apr 2013. <http://www. cancer. org/cancer/breastcancer/overviewguide/breast-cancer-overview-what-causes>. 5. Belkin, L. (2009, May 22). What to tell a daughter who carries the ‘breast cancer gene’ The New York Times. Retrieved from” http:/parenting. blogs. nytimes. com/2009/05/22/what-to-tell-a-daughter-who-carries-the-breast-cancer-gene/ 6. Metcafe, KA. “Family History as a Predictor of Uptake of Cancer Preventive Procedures by Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 Mutation. ” Clin Genet [Singapore].