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  • The Top 5 Cancers Affecting Women

    Unfortunately, the numbers show that more and more women are being diagnosed with cancer every year. The higher rates of cancer have become a major concern for medical science, but there are many factors which can increase a person’s risk of cancer. In many cases, a cancer diagnosis is connected with the patient’s family medical history.

    While our family history is something that we cannot control, there are a number of environmental and lifestyle factors which we can. Lifestyle choices like your diet, activity level, or smoking can have a significant impact on your overall risk of cancer.

    The harsh truth is that most people choose not to take any preventative measures in their life. This is unfortunate, because research has shown that making certain lifestyle changes can be very beneficial. The odds show that only one out of every three women will ever get cancer, but are you really ready to make that gamble?

    According to the CDC estimates from 2008 (this is the most recent year available), 700,000 women were diagnosed with various forms of cancer. Most of these women were diagnosed with one of the following forms of cancer:

    1. Breast Cancer

    This is, by a significant margin, the most common form of cancer among women. Breast cancer accounts for a whopping 26 percent of all cancer cases among women, and 15 percent of these breast cancer cases are fatal. Research has shown us that roughly one out of eight women is at risk of developing breast cancer. Unfortunately, there are a broad number of factors which can contribute to a woman’s overall risk.

    According to researchers, women should be mindful of the following factors: receiving past radiation treatment in the chest, their family medical history, certain types of birth control, dense breast tissue, a higher than average number of periods (if they started before age 12 and have reached menopause after age 55), getting pregnant after 30 years of age, non-pregnancy, being overweight, not breastfeeding, lack of exercise, alcoholism, maintaining a diet high in fat, and being treated with the drug Diethylstilbestrol (DES).

    Race also plays a key factor in the occurrence of breast cancer. Medical researchers have noted that more Caucasian women are diagnosed with breast cancer than African American women. However, the disease is fatal in more African American women, due to the faster rate at which the tumor grows in African American women.

    Regardless of race, women should consider getting clinical breast exams every 3 years in their 20s and 30s, and every year after they have hit 40. Aside from that, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet can be very helpful in combating the risks of breast cancer.

    2. Lung and Bronchus Cancers

    Coming in as the second most common form of cancer among women, lung and bronchus cancers account for 14 percent of all female cancer cases. These cancers can be very deadly, and about 26 percent of these patients will die from them. Currently, it is estimated that one out of every 16 women will be affected by lung and bronchus cancer. These numbers show just how dangerous these forms of cancer can be.

    The various causes for lung and bronchus cancer include exposure to various harmful airborne inhalants (second-hand smoke, arsenic, soot, or radon gas) as well as a family history of the disease.

    Simply put, one of the best ways to avoid lung and bronchus cancer is by not smoking. Research has shown that smoking is a leading cause of a number of deadly diseases, like COPD and lung cancer. It is an extremely dangerous habit to have, pure and simple.

    Women who smoke are 10-20 times more likely to develop lung cancer during their lives. You can help lower your overall risk by staying active and eating right.

    3. Colon and Rectal Cancers

    Accounting for 10 percent of all female cancer cases, colon and rectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer among women. One out of every 19 women will develop cancer in their colon, and about 10 percent of the time, it is deadly.

    Unfortunately, some women have a family history of inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer, or polyps. Women with a high risk family medical history should try and avoid maintaining a diet that is low in fiber and high in fat. Other factors which can contribute to colon cancer include smoking, heavy drinking, and a heavily sedentary lifestyle.

    Fortunately, if this form of cancer is caught early, it can be easily cured. The abnormal cells tend to develop over 10-15 years in the colon, so if it is detected early, then the polyps can be removed after a colonoscopy screening. Some studies have even shown that a diet rich in dairy products and calcium may help to reduce your chances of colon cancer.

    4. Uterine Cancer

    The fourth most common form of cancer is uterine cancer, which accounts for 6 percent of all female cancers and kills three percent of patients diagnosed. It is estimated that 1 woman out of 41 will be susceptible to this disease. Uterine cancer is primarily caused by a hormonal change (estrogen).

    However, other risk factors include undergoing estrogen therapy, unhealthy diet, the presence of ovarian tumors, diabetes, family history of colon cancer, no pregnancies, age, taking tamoxifen for breast cancer, a higher than average number of menstrual periods, and a personal history of breast or ovarian cancer.

    5. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

    Coming in at fifth place and accounting for four percent of all female cancers is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma cancer. About 1 out of 53 women will be diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s, and it is fatal in about 3 percent of those diagnosed.

    Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma can occur in women at any age, and while it originates in the lymphatic system it can spread all over the body. This cancer can found in the lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, thymus gland, adenoids, or even bone marrow.

    Common causes of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma include a weakened immune system, obesity, autoimmune diseases, and exposure to insecticides and herbicides at an old age. Research has shown that diseases like HIV, which can seriously impact your immune system, can increase your risk of developing this disease. As always, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help prevent Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

    Given the numbers in this list, it may be time to make some beneficial alterations in your everyday habits. If you are smoker, maybe it is time to consider quitting. If you eat out a lot at fast food places, try to cut out some of these excess fats and add some more healthy fiber to your diet. In addition, remember to stay active, as this can be a great way to help prevent the development of cancer.

    (photo credit: © cleomiu –