By Deana Lenz
Breast cancer information has never been more widespread, but knowing how to separate fact from fiction isn’t easy. So we were thrilled to have Dr. Elisa Port on the show with us. Dr. Port is director of the Dubin Breast Center, and, as a surgeon, performs more than 300 operations a year. She just released The New Generation Breast Cancer Book, a guide to recovery for the newly diagnosed woman.
Dr. Port shares with us the two main lifestyle risk factors that can increase a woman’s risk for getting breast cancer.
- Heavy Alcohol Intake
While we don’t know exactly what causes any cancer, studies indicate a strong link between hormones and breast cancer. A lifetime of exposure to estrogen, the female sex hormone, “may lead to a higher risk of breast cancer,” says Dr. Port. For post menopausal women, one of the biggest sources of estrogen is fat. The more fat your body is storing, the more estrogen it will create, no matter what age you are.
Dr. Port also warns that alcohol consumption of more than “4-5 drinks per week” may increase your risk of getting breast cancer. The reason for this connection goes back to hormones, and how our body processes them. Hormones are broken down by the liver; Alcohol is also broken down by the liver. “If the liver is too busy breaking down alcohol, it doesn’t have the bandwidth to break down the hormones,” says Dr. Port, which may in turn lead to breast cancer. The risk doesn’t stop there though – women who drink heavily, and do get breast cancer, are at a “higher risk of the breast cancer coming back.”
What about smoking?
While it may seem worse, there is no direct link between smoking, “that we know of,” and breast cancer. There is plenty of evidence suggesting that smoking is a leading cause in many other cancers, from lung cancer, to esophageal cancer, to cancer of the neck and mouth, so don’t let the lack of breast correlation deter you.
See the rest of the interview with Dr. Elisa Port!
And be sure to check out Dr. Port’s New Generation Breast Cancer Book, available in bookstores everywhere.
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