Breast cancer: when you are most at risk

We look at the emotional influences, risk factors and myths that are said to cause breast cancer.

The most devastating loss of life from breast cancer occurs in women between 30-50 years of age. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women 40-44 years of age. Although breast cancer has only 10% of the morbidity and mortality of coronary heart disease, it’s generally more feared.

The American Medical Association (AMA) journal, American Medical News, reports that little evidence exists to prove that mammography saves lives from breast cancer in premenopausal women, which includes women who fall into these age groups.

The hereditary breast cancer genes, referred to as BRCA 1 and 2, are associated with breast and ovarian cancers. However, these genetic factors account for only 5-10% of all breast cancer. Lesser-known factors are estimated for another 10% of all breast cancers. In at least 70% of cases, however, the cause of breast cancer is as yet unknown.

The risk of breast cancer is increased if a woman:

• Had her first period before age 12

• Went through menopause after age 50

• Had her first child after age 30, or never been pregnant

• Was on hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills

• Consumes two or more alcoholic drinks per day

• Has a family history of breast cancer

• Is found to have inherited the breast cancer genes

• Is postmenopausal and gained weight (not so for premenopausal women)

• Has elevated levels of insulin as seen with syndrome X, metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes, which are conditions associated with central obesity and increased levels of insulin-like growth factor 1

• Is sedentary (doesn’t get enough exercise – moderate intensity 30 minutes, five times a week)

The above risks are generally accepted, but keep in mind that the genetic tendency also plays a role, but genetic weakness is a potential rather than a promise or certainty.

Lesser-known emotional influences 

The breasts are the nurturing, life giving glands in a woman’s body. Caroline Myss writes in The Creation of Health that breast cancer often occurs in women that mothers others while neglecting themselves.

A woman might feel unconsciously that she gives, but seldom receives love, acknowledgement and comforting. Such a woman might give the outlook of being emotionally strong, but deep in her soul, being totally unconscious, lies the buried energy images of personal neglect. This process might start during a difficult childhood with too many demands; no time to really be a child; and expectations to care for others.

Breast cancer might also develop in some women because of an inability to have a child or to breastfeed, resulting in thoughts of her life goal been unfulfilled. Guilt, self-hatred, and the belief that she was unloved as a child can also play a role. Other women might be unconsciously afraid that their identity and self-worth as a mother might be lost when their kids leave home.

However this mind-body-soul connection should not be regarded as your own fault – as if you created your disease on purpose. The process lies deeply buried in the cell memories that isn’t even close to the conscious. This energy explanation serves only as a guide to help with the essential inner healing when disease is regarded as teacher, rather than curse.

If you identify deep hurt and injury, consult a sensitive healthcare practitioner. Numerous research has been done that shows the survival and remission rate of women with breast cancer increases dramatically when they attend support-group sessions and workshops that help them deal with the emotional issues that led to and exacerbate the disease.

Popular myths

Antiperspirants, wearing a wire bra, and having had an abortion do not cause cancer. These are myths, please don’t believe them.

Written by Dr Arien van der Merwe.

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