Focus on Understanding Breast Cancer Risk Factors: Alcohol Use

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No one should drink a lot of alcohol. Drinking more than one drink per day (for women) and more than two drinks per day (for men) has no health benefits and many serious health risks, including breast cancer. Many studies show that drinking alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer.  A pooled analysis of data from 53 studies found for each alcoholic drink consumed per day, the relative risk of breast cancer increased by about seven percent.

Research shows that women who had two to three alcoholic drinks per day had a 20 percent higher risk of breast cancer compared to women who didn’t drink alcohol.

Estrogen levels are higher in women who drink alcohol than in non-drinkers, which may increase the risk of breast cancer.

Drinking alcohol can reduce blood levels of the vitamin folic acid. Folic acid plays a role in copying and repairing DNA.  Low levels of folic acid may make it more likely that errors occur when cells divide, which can cause cells to become cancerous. Such errors can lead cells down a pathway to become cancer.

However, drinking in moderation has some health benefits like lowering the risks of heart disease, high blood pressure and death. It is important to note that drinking excessive alcohol has no health benefits, only health risks.

Learn more: http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/DrinkingAlcohol.html

Focus on Understanding Breast Cancer: Questions to Ask Your Doctor

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No one knows more about your body than you do – not your partner, not your parents, not even your doctor. So when you talk with a health care provider about your health, remember that you have valuable information to share. You know about changes in your body and about any problems you may be having. Share that information. Open and honest communication between you and your doctor is one of the best ways to make sure you get the care you deserve.

To get the most out of each doctor’s visit, try following these guidelines:

  1. Be prepared. It is often helpful to gather information about your health concerns — from the library (books and medical journals), trusted Internet sites, etc. The more you know, the more comfortable you will be talking to your doctor.
  1. Organize your questions ahead of time. You should be able to talk openly and honestly with your doctor about breast health and breast cancer to make sure all of your questions are answered. To help you get started, Susan G. Komen® has a series of 17 Questions to Ask the Doctor topic cards on a variety of breast cancer issues. Each card contains important questions to discuss with your doctor. Space is provided for you to jot down the answers. Also, be sure to bring a voice recorder to capture your conversation so you can refer back to your doctor’s responses. These questions will help your doctor understand and address your specific concerns. You can download and print these cards to take to your next doctor’s appointment at www.komen.org/questions.
  1. Tell your story. When your doctor comes in, ask if you can take a few minutes to briefly explain your situation and concerns. Be as specific as you can. Then, give the doctor your list of questions and ask them.
  1. Give feedback. If your doctor’s responses were helpful, say so. This kind of feedback will encourage your doctor to talk with you, listen to you and continue to help you. Doctors are just like anyone else; they want to do their job well. That means doing whatever they can to help you stay healthy or to get better. Remember, although doctors may know a great deal about breast health and breast cancer, they may not truly understand or be aware of all that you are going through. You can help your doctor help you by sharing your feelings and concerns.

Learn more: http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/QuestionstoAsktheDoctorPDFDownloads.html?ecid=vanityurl:57 or http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/TalkingWithYourDoctor.html