What causes breast cancer?
If you notice, the media spends much of its time publishing information that blames the victim. I think this is so that those who don’t have breast cancer can feel that they’ll never get it and, furthermore, that those of us who have it did something wrong such as one or all of the following. Sorry to tell you that sometimes it’s just the “luck of the draw” as my oncologist put it… before I snarled at him for using the word “luck” in this context.
Note: I owe some of this information to the ladies at Team Inspire.
Not drinking wine. One year Wine Spectator blames us teetotalers for our breast cancer because we don’t drink wine: “Two Studies Look to Red Wine for Breast Cancer Prevention.” I think all the wine manufacturers that have pink ribbons are going with this study.
Drinking wine. The next year, another article tells us that, “Drinking moderate amounts of any kind of alcohol (including wine, beer, and liquor) is associated with a slightly increased breast cancer risk.” In the intervening year those silly enough to have not seen what would happen in the future presumably had a few too many and caused their own breast cancer.
Having mammograms. One article says “…one estimate is that annual radiological breast exams increase the risk of breast cancer by two percent a year. So over 10 years the risk will have increased 20 percent.” Read it for yourself at, “Mammograms cause breast cancer….” Further, those of us with dense breast tissue can get a little complacent about a clear mammogram, and mammograms don’t pick up fast-growing cancers, which can start as little as a week after a clear mammogram and grow for a year until the next mammogram is scheduled. So, for many women, mammograms are worse than a poor tool for detection of cancer. I fall in that category. I have dense breast tissue and had fast-growing cancer the first time around. But I’d had a mammogram four months before the cancer showed up as a pain (note: not a lump), so I let it grow for another four months before I did anything. I thought, and my doctor agreed, that it just couldn’t be cancer because I’d just had a mammogram and there was no lump, right? This was one of the top doctors in Seattle. I don’t see her any more.
Not having mammograms. You’ve all heard the drumbeat about early detection, especially from the Komen folks. Certainly early detection helps some, and we’re grateful for those saved lives.
Being fat and sluggish (relaxing too much). You’ve all heard this and probably seen all the studies. I guess those of us who have maintained a healthy lifestyle – including several women I know who died of breast cancer – shouldn’t have bothered to spend all that time trying to be healthy. Eat drink and be merry!
Not relaxing enough. Apparently, though, being high strung and unable to slouch about and relax has its own problems as shown by “Severe Psychological Stress May Be Linked To Breast Cancer.”
Heaven forbid that any large manufacturer or government entity should attempt to make positive changes or take blame for any of the following.
Lights at night, especially florescent lights. The EU recently did away with incandescent lighting, so now all you can buy there are compact floursecent bulbs. The US is heading in that direction. But of course nobody considers the health effects in the face of public pressure to be “environmentally friendly.” Read the full article at, “Lights at Night are Linked to Breast Cancer.”
Hazardous waste and other toxins. Apparently all those chemicals are good for us, or at least they don’t cause cancer, otherwise someone would do something about this kind of thing, right? Right? See: “Environmental Exposures and Breast Cancer on Long Island,” and “Debating Just How Much Weed Killer is Safe in Your Water Glass.”
Plastics. Plastic water bottles, plastic food containers…. try to live a day without it. “Scientists link plastic food containers with breast cancer.” Breastcancerfund.org has more information.
Birth control pills and other hormones. It’s interesting to note that breast cancers have increased since the 1960s, maybe because that’s when birth control pills came into popular use? According to the National Cancer Institute, “current or recent users of birth control pills had a slightly elevated risk of developing breast cancer.” And, of course, those hormones that are pushed on menopausal women turned out to be a problem. Who knew that ingesting pills made from the urine of pregnant mares could possibly cause cancer? Stunning.
Cosmetics. Is it worth it to look good? Maybe not: Cosmetic Companies and Breast Cancer.
Some of the information on both sides is less than scientific, but all of it is worth considering when you hear someone blaming your local breast cancer victim for the disease that’s attacking her. It’s not like we can change whatever it was that caused this, and the truth is that for many of us, nobody knows what caused our cancer. Blaming us is both wrong and depressing. If we could have avoided this, we would have.