Delaying having kids, unhealthy lifestyle raise risk of breast cancer – experts.
The Philippines has the highest incidence of breast cancer in Asia with 1 in every 13 Filipinas at risk of getting it in her lifetime.
While the cause has yet to be pinpointed, medical experts have attributed to several factors including the decision of many Filipino women not to have children or to delay marriage and having kids until they are in their 30s.
Oncologist Dr. Christina Galvez, President of the Philippine Breast Cancer Society, during the Pink Ribbon Day event, held in partnership with SM Cares at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, said the decision to delay having children until their 30s is making Filipino women at risk of having breast cancer because of the longer duration of exposure to estrogen.
“Women naturally produce estrogen through the ovaries. It is a natural hormone. But this hormone feeds cancer cells so when you have constant high levels of estrogen in your body, it raises your risk of breast cancer. The production of this hormone only stops when you get pregnant and give birth so when you have kids, it shortens the period of your exposure to this type of hormone,“ Galvez explained.
A recent study had shown that majority of women (58 percent) want to delay having children until their late 30s for their career.
Other risk factors she pointed out are intake of oral contraceptive pills, high fat diet, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol consumption and family history of cancer. Pregnancy and breastfeeding offers some protection against breast cancer.
Due to its high incidence, the PBCS has teamed up with SM Prime Holdings Inc. to hold the Pink Ribbon Day, an event to promote breast cancer awareness and encourage them to have regular breast examination for early detection and intervention.
Held in celebration of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the event was attended by cancer survivors, women members of the Philippine National Police and members of cause oriented groups to raise awareness on the struggles of breast cancer patients and how to deal with the disease. Pink Ribbon Day aims to raise awareness, promote early detection and early intervention against breast cancer and was geared towards serving women in the community.
The event was hosted by Ms. Kris Aquino.
Galvez said regular breast examination is the single best way to detect the disease at the earliest possible stage. “An ounce of prevention is better than cure as they say and we want to tell women that we will be able to survive breast cancer if we catch it early. This can only be done through self-examination and clinical checks,” she pointed out.
She stated that women aged 20 and above should conduct the breast self-examination (BSE) monthly right after their monthly period. This is done by using the pads of the fingers in a circular pattern moving from the center of the breast going out including the nipple-areola and armpit areas to detect the presence of lumps, skin changes, nipple discharge and changes in the nipple color or texture.
Aside from the BSE, clinical examinations must also be conducted every one to three years and if a woman is forty years and above, mammography screenings must be done every year.
During the event, free consultations and clinical breast exams were conducted for free. Cancer survivors led by movie and TV director Bibeth Orteza and tv host Jaymee Joaquin, Aquino, SM and PBCS executives signed a pledge wall to fight breast cancer.
Orteza and Joaquin each shared their experiences on dealing with the disease.
Elena Bautista Horn, Vice President for Corporate Affairs of SM Prime, who is herself a breast cancer survivor said “Pink Ribbon Day” is their way of telling women that breast cancer is not a death sentence but a challenge that can be won with early detection with the help of prayers and the support of family and friends.
“Breast cancer is not a death sentence. There are lots of technology now available. What is important is early detection and of course with the help of your family and friends. My twins inspired me to keep going and to fight. So to all women out there, don’t be afraid to have yourself checked. You have to do it for you and your loved ones,” Horn said.
She added that the Pink Ribbon Day is their way of promoting programs for the benefit of women. “Today is a celebration of life. We want to do our share in addressing one of the top causes of mortality for women by promoting early detection as well as healthy lifestyle,” Horn said.
She said plans are now underway to hold the event in more SM malls nationwide to reach more women.
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Kris Aquino Pink Ribbon Day At SM Mall Of Asia