Diabetes – Genes load the gun, unhealthy lifestyle triggers it!

Not all that you get in inheritance is good and for the keeps. Same goes for certain diseases like diabetes, which has a strong connotation with one’s family history.
Both my parents are diabetics (Type II). Their parents were too. Am I next in the queue?
Possibility is indeed high considering my increasing waistline, unhealthy eating habits and lack of physical activity (let me put the onus on my 9 hr desk job!).
With a strong family history to shoot my chances up of getting the disease, as a proactive measure, I took an appointment with a Diabetologist. I am glad I did that!
On discussing my case and family background with him, my physician also was of an opinion that diabetes does have a strong genetic influence and that’s why categorised as a genetic disorder.
He said,
  • If either of the parents is diabetic, then the chances of the person suffering from it increase by 20-30%
  • If both the parents are diabetic, the probability increases up to 60%
  • If diabetes is present in two generations, the person then falls into a high-risk zone
A high-risk group is the one where people are above the age of 35, obese, have a family history of diabetes or females who have had diabetes during pregnancy. Such people should check their blood sugar levels at regular intervals (once in six months).
People genetically predisposed to the disease should observe healthy eating habits, regular exercise and keep the weight within normal limits.
Moral of the story: Since you can’t change the legacy of diseases, change your lifestyle!

Mind Your Risks Ladies!

Every woman is eager and curious to know what causes this disease – breast cancer and how can she lower and eliminate the chances of getting it? Sadly, the concern cannot be resolved in black and white.

No researcher or doctor can take 100% guarantee of a risk free life even with all negatives taken care of. But yes, one can definitely bring down the risk factors to a large extent.
Come, let’s walk through them.

Simply Being a Woman

What an irony but the fact is that being a woman itself is a major risk factor for developing breast cancer during the lifetime. Now, a sex change is not the most realistic or a reasonable option to curb this risk. So do we have choices? Yes, indeed.

Following a healthy lifestyle, maintaining an ideal weight, exercising and limiting alcohol intake is the best a female can do to keep the disease at the farthest end.


Just like many other diseases, risk of breast cancer goes up as the female ages. 2 out of 3 invasive breast cancers, women are found to be 55 or older. The best reasoning given to support this could be that the longer we live, there are more opportunities for genetic mutation (damage) in the cells and with age our bodies become less capable of repairing that genetic damage.

Family History & Genetics

Yes, it does run in families! Women who have their close relatives diagnosed with breast cancer have a little higher (up to 10%) risk of developing the disease. The risk increases manifold if first-degree female relatives like sister, mother or daughter are diagnosed with breast cancer.

Only 5 to 10% of breast cancers are caused by abnormal genes that get passed from parent to child. Mostly, the inherited cases of breast cancer are associated with two types of abnormal genes- BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Everyone has these BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and the function of the BRCA genes is to repair cellular damage and keep breast cells to grow normally. But when these genes start mutating or contain abnormalities that are passed from generation to generation, they stopped functioning normally and breast cancer risk of the person increases.

Being Overweight

Obese women are at a higher risk as compared to women who are within limits of a healthy weight, especially post menopause.

This higher risk is related to obese females having more fat cells, resulting in more estrogen production. This over production of estrogen can make the hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers to develop and grow.

Radiation Exposure to Chest or Face Before 30

Previous radiation to the chest (to treat another type of cancer such as Hodgkin's disease or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) or face may increase the chances of breast cancer.

Pregnancy and Breast Feeding History

Women who have their first child after 30 years have an increased risk. Breastfeeding can lower breast cancer risk, especially if a woman breastfeeds for longer than 1 year.

Before a full term pregnancy, the breast cells are immature and respond hugely to estrogen as well as hormone-disrupting chemicals in products. Pregnancy makes the breast cells mature and grow normally.

Menstrual History

Early onset (younger than age 12) of periods (early menarche) and late finishing (post 55 years) of periods (menopause) in women brings her closer to the risk of breast cancer later in life, possibly because of increased number of period cycles.

Drinking Alcohol and smoking

Consistently researches have shown that drinking alcohol and smoking increases a female’s risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Alcohol increases the levels of estrogen and other hormones linked with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Alcohol may also increase the risk of breast cancer by damaging DNA in cells.

Having Dense Breasts

Dense breast tissue can be 6 times more likely to develop breast cancer and also makes it harder for mammograms to detect it. Dense breast tissue runs in families.

Using HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy)

Females on hormone replacement therapy to ease menopausal symptoms and also to reduce bone loss have a higher risk of falling for breast cancer.
Some of the factors mentioned above are modifiable, other are not.

This means risk factors that can be modified and dealt with are the ones we should focus and pay attention to. For the rest, we should keep a close vigil by undergoing regular breast examination and screening tests.

By choosing the healthiest lifestyle options, making small but significant changes in life like exercising, not smoking or drinking or maintaining a healthy weight can empower your to make sure your breast cancer risks are lowered to the max.

Image source: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2008/may/05/genetics.health http://fitnessnmakeup.blogspot.in/2012/02/what-every-woman-should-know-about.html

Go PINK this October...

Pink - Not merely a fragile girly colour anymore!
It screams loud, the power of Breast Cancer Awareness too.
October is being celebrated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Oh yeah! It is going to be an over dose of pink for a while. But are we really paying much heed to all the promotion and commotion happening all around us in the pretext of breast cancer awareness? Simply sporting a pink ribbon on your dress or reading and watching all the ‘gyan’ in media is not just enough.
Ladies....Slip into little privacy and do a self breast exam’ NOW!
No excuses please. If you don’t know how to do it, read here. Stand in front of a mirror and start feeling from about an inch below the breast till the collarbone. There are six major steps in a breast self examination:
  • Step 1 – Stand straight and visually check for any abnormalities with the arms hanging by the side
  • Step 2 – Raise both hands and puts them behind the head
  • Step 3 – Place the arms on waist and try to flex the breast muscles to check for any changes in the breast tissue
  • Step 4 – Feel breasts for any unusual lumps, dimpling, puckering, rashes or change in colour of skin
  • Step 5 – Examine the nipples. Check for any discharge, hardness or difference in colour from before
  • Step 6 – Lie down and pat the breast. Feel for lumps till armpit.
Once these six steps are done, feel and check the armpits and neck for any swollen lymph nodes.
Three cheers for you to have done it! Make it a practice to do it every month.
Smaller the Better - A self exam will detect a breast cancer when it reaches the size of a cherry but a mammogram will pick it when it is still as tiny as a pea.
And if at all you come across any little abnormality while doing a BSE, please DO NOT panic! Even if you have felt a little hardening here and there, do not jump into any conclusions. Not all lumps are CANCERS. But yes, not any lump should be ignored as well.
Do you know, one in every 22 urban women and 1 in every 60 rural women are at risk of getting breast cancer in their lifetime? The high risk category is women of 43-46 years of age group.
Know your risks...
  • First child birth after 30s
  • Less or no breast feeding
  • Early onset and late finishing (menopause) of periods
  • Hereditary (only in up to 10% cases)
  • Dense breast tissue
  • Poor lifestyle habits (stress, high fat diet, obesity & alcohol)
See RED if you notice any of these...
  • A hard lump or mass in the breast or armpits, which feels fixed and does not move inside
  • Any unilateral abnormal discharge from nipple
  • Puckering or dimpling of breast skin at one particular area (orange peel like appearance)
  • Inversion of nipple
  • Do a Self Breast Exam once a month
  • Get a clinical breast exam done by a physician once in 3 years
  • After 40, a mammogram once in three years
  • After 50, a mammogram once every year
But remember, your physician is the best person to chalk out your individual periodic screening schedules, considering yours and your family’s medical history, age and other risk factors.
Be you own BREAST friend and remain in the PINK of your health!

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