Prevention to me is always far more effective than trying to fix a disease once it has been diagnosed

Although many woman now are surviving breast cancer, it is still on the rise and the risk is increasing. This is not just happening with young woman but also with elderly woman as well.

This increase raises the obvious question: why have rates gone up?

Unfortunately there’s no simple answer to this. Breast cancer is a complicated disease with a variety of different causes.

Many aspects of our lives can alter our risk in one direction or another, most of which we have a great deal of control.

So by taking on the aspects of lowering our risk, this will lessen the effects of the areas that we don't have control over.

Let’s take a look at some of the possible explanations.


In recent years, breast cancer rates have been rising especially among women aged 65-69. This probably coincides with the inclusion, from 2004, of women in this age group in the national breast screening programme. Due to the increase in how many women who are attending screening has brought about an increased number of cancers being detected.

In many ways, this is to be expected. Screening programmes are meant to detect cancers at an early stage when they’re too small to cause any symptoms. At this point, they are easier to treat successfully. So you would expect rates to go up when a new group of women is invited for screening. However this is also contradictory as there has been evidence to say that breast screening can cause small tumours to metastasise.

The screening programme has attracted a lot of recent controversy, there may well be far safer alternatives than mammograms for screening breast cancer Critics say that it picks up a large number of cancers that would never go on to cause a woman any problems. These include a type of cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) – a ‘pre-cancerous’ type of tumour that has not yet started to spread. But our new analysis doesn’t include cases of DCIS, so these non-invasive tumours can’t explain the rising breast cancer rates in women aged 65-69.


There are several aspects of our daily lives that can affect the risk of breast cancer. We know that alcohol can cause breast cancer, and even drinking small amounts can increase the risk of this disease. Alcohol boosts levels of oestrogen in the blood, and abnormally high levels of this hormone have been linked to breast cancer.

Large studies have found that drinking an extra unit every day (and remember there are two units in a medium-sized glass of wine) can increase the risk of breast cancer by around 10 per cent. That’s not a big effect, but because the disease is so common, it translates to a surprising number of extra breast cancer cases.

After the menopause, women who are overweight or obese have a higher breast cancer risk than those who have a healthy weight. Several studies have determined that woman who are overweight and obese are at a far higher risk of breast cancer, than those who maintain a healthy weight.

Body fat is surprisingly active, pumping out oestrogen and other hormones that affect how our cells grow and divide. This source of oestrogen becomes increasingly important after the menopause when the ovaries stop producing the hormone.

When we look at keeping physically active could reduce the risk of breast cancer by anywhere from 20 to 40 per cent. Researchers are still not exactly sure how exercise and physical activity help, but it all seems to lead to supporting a healthier hormone balance.


We know that hormone replacement therapy can increase the risk of breast cancer although it’s not clear how much this accounts for the recent trends.

The use of HRT has risen greatly between 1992 and 2001. During this time, around a quarter of women aged 45-69 were using HRT. However, the use of this medication’s popularity soon dropped when it became evident it's link to causing breast cancer.

We know that HRT taken over a long period time the higher her risk of breast cancer becomes, It has been said that it is relatively safe for a maximum of around 5 years , there is still evidence of the increased risk to breast cancer. It said that it will take around another 5 years for the risk to diminish after stopping of the medication.


Having children is something that at times has been forgotten as a protection against the disease. Women are less likely to develop breast cancer if they have their first child at an earlier age. The risk also is significantly lower when having more than one child and spending a significant time of 6 months plus breastfeeding.


People are living longer now than ever before. And one of the risks for most cancers is simply getting older. But it should be noted that the 1 in 8 figure is a lifetime risk – and that during a lifetime, risk changes. For breast cancer, risk increases sharply from around the time of the menopause – see the table below:

Up to and including age Risk (women)
29 1 in 2000
39 1 in 215
49 1 in 50
59 1 in 22
69 1 in 13
Lifetime risk 1 in 8

It is vitally important that as we become older that caring for our health becomes vitally important, not saying that it shouldn't be when you are younger. But the more we focus on healthy solutions to support our bodies, the more effective our bodies will function for us and also for longer. The other factor that needs to be considered with the increase with age is how well you have supported your health in your pre menopause years, the build up of toxicity, damage caused by smoking, drinking excessively and not being nutritionally nourished throughout these years that will help with restorative and maintenance functions within our bodies.

Other Possible Causes to Consider

There are many other potential causes of breast cancer – some are myths, others have some truth to them. We’re only going to touch on some of them briefly here, but you can click through for more information.

The Pill: This will dependant on the type of pill used for contraception and the length of time this contraception has been taken. It will have a more profound and significant link to breast cancer when the pill or contraception within itself stops other bodily functions, also when taken over many years.

Our diet: has an enormous affect with increasing our risk of cancer, any form of cancer. But despite our endeavours to implement healthy eating programs: Cooking your own meals especially from scratch, having a diet of 80% raw fresh food, there is still such a trend to grab whatever you can to eat without being mindful as to what it is doing to our bodies in the long term.

Working Nights: could affect the risk of breast cancer, according to the International Agency for Research into Cancer. Many scientists are now trying to work out if this is actually true. The problem is that few of the studies to date have accounted for other things that can affect breast cancer risk, like number of children or body weight.

Vitamin D: This is a hot topic to the cause of many areas of ill health, but the reason for the decreased levels of Vitamin D is that the fat content of our diets has increased. Vitamin D is our fat metabolizing vitamin and like anything when it is being overused there is depletion. So looking at your diets the quantity of processed foods and animal fats. If we decrease these, then with some exercise outdoors our vitamin D levels will improve

Deodorants: There is no evidence to say that there is a link between breast cancer and deodorants. However, due to the fact that these contain harmful chemicals and are used under your harms, usually after shaving and will go straight into your blood stream, right near your lymph nodes; That this possible link is very high.

Stress: can alter the levels of hormones in the body and affect the immune system. But there’s no consistent evidence that these changes could lead to breast cancer. However, stressful situations can make people take up unhealthy behaviours such as smoking, heavy drinking or overeating that can themselves increase the risk of cancer.

Chemicals in our environment : By decreasing the amount of chemicals we consume either through food, our household environment, products we use either within our homes and on our bodies. This will allow our bodies to cope with the external chemicals in our environment more efficiently

11 Steps to Actively Improve Breast Health:
1. Maintain a healthy body weight throughout your life. Weight gain in midlife, has been shown to significantly increase breast cancer risk. An increase in weight during these mid years has been shown to increase the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer. It is much easier to keep tabs on your weight incrementally throughout your life, rather than have this inaugural task of losing 20 or more kilos down the track.
2.Minimize or avoid alcohol. As mentioned earlier alcohol is a major contributor to breast cancer, I know personally that I would prefer my health and life over a glass of wine. Putting it like that makes it an easy choice. Relax by having a long bath, taking a walk in the park , breath in the very wonder of who you are as a person.
3. Consume as many fruits and vegetables as possible. Eat seven or more servings daily. The superstars for breast cancer protection include all cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower); dark leafy greens (collards, kale, spinach); carrots and tomatoes. The superstar fruits include citrus, berries and cherries. Note: it is best to eat cruciferous vegetables raw or lightly cooked, as some of the phytochemicals believed to offer protection against breast cancer are destroyed by heat.
4. Exercise regularly the rest of your life. Many studies have shown that regular exercise provides powerful protection against breast cancer. Aim for 30 minutes or more of moderate aerobic activity (brisk walking) five or more days a week. Consistency and duration, not intensity, are key!
5. Do your fats right! The type of fat in your diet can affect your breast cancer risk. Minimize consumption of omega-6 fats (sunflower, safflower, corn and cottonseed oils), saturated fats and trans fats. Maximize your intake of omega-3 fats, especially from oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, lake trout and herring). Consume monounsaturated oils (canola, olive oil, nuts/seeds, and avocados) as your primary fat source, as these foods have potential anticancer properties. Specifically, canola oil is a good source of omega-3 fats; extra virgin olive oil is a potent source of antioxidant polyphenols, including squalene; and nuts and seeds provide you with the cancer protective mineral, selenium.
6. Do your carbs right! Minimize consumption of the high glycaemic index, "Great White Hazards" - white flour, white rice, white potatoes, sugar and products containing them. These foods trigger hormonal changes that promote cellular growth in breast tissue. Replace these "wrong" carbs with whole grains and beans/legumes. Beans/legumes because of their high fibre and lignan content are especially special.
7. Consume whole food soy products regularly, such as tofu, tempeh, edamame, roasted soy nuts, soy milk and miso. Only consume organic, non-GMO (genetically modified) soy. Epidemiologic studies have shown a positive association between soy consumption and reduced breast cancer risk.
8. Minimize exposure to pharmacologic oestrogens and xeno-oestrogens. Do not take prescription oestrogens unless medically indicated. Lifetime exposure to estrogen plays a fundamental role in the development of breast cancer. Also avoid estrogen-like compounds found in environmental pollutants, such as pesticides and industrial chemicals. Buy organic produce if you can afford it; otherwise, thoroughly wash all non-organic produce. Minimize exposure to residual hormones found in non-organic dairy products, meat and poultry. Menopause is another hormone replacement area that women are at risk from prescribed HRT
9. Use only chemically free and non Paraben based products on your skin: Another area to look at is the use of skin care products that are chemically based, but one of the main culprits is underarm deodorants. There is no confirmed evidence to support this but remembering whatever you use externally is absorbed into your circulatory system and lymphatic system therefore making you more susceptible to toxic damage or otherwise known as free radical damage which can make you more susceptible to any form of disease or ill health. By at least eliminating as many chemicals and toxins as we can we will give our bodies a better chance of recovery and eliminating the toxins that we personally have no control over such as the foods we eat, the medicines we ingest, the cleaning products we use as well as the products we use on our skin
10. Supplements to include daily. A multivitamin, 500-1,000 mg of vitamin C in divided doses, 200-400 IUs of vitamin E as mixed tocopherols, and pharmaceutical grade fish oil: Also take 200 mcg of the mineral selenium or eat one to two Brazil nuts as an alternative. If you have a chronic medical condition or take prescription drugs, consult your physician first.
11. Maintain a positive mental outlook. Engage in self-nurturing behaviour's regularly. Develop rich, warm and mutually beneficial relationships with family and friends. Get adequate sleep (7-8 hours per night). The mind-body associations with breast cancer are significant.

Empowering You to Optimal Health Julie Doherty N.D

Author's Bio: 

Julie Doherty is a Fully Accredited Naturopathic & Massage Practitioner with the Australian Traditional Medicine Society Ltd.
Having completed Professional Qualifications in Naturopathic Medicine: Herbal Medicine: Homoeopathic, Nutritional Medicine: Holistic Massage Therapy: Body Work: & Natural Beauty Therapy. This has enabled Julie to follow her dream of supporting people to overcome their health issues & heal their body with the use of a combination of Naturopathic, Herbal, and Homoeopathic & Nutritional Medicines & Therapies to become well without causing further harm or complications
Julie is involved in supporting other health care professionals with treatment protocols for people who are on prescription medication, chemo therapy and other related health care procedures
Julie’s vision and passion has been & still is to assist each person to become well with the least invasive & most effective treatments. Whilst working with likeminded people.
Over the past 25 years, Julie Doherty has successfully treated & assisted people with various areas of ill health and disease from the common cold, skin ailments through to cancer.
Julie’s approach is to enable each person to have the best “Quality of life possible” whilst making your treatments effective, affordable and manageable incorporating these strategies into each person's everyday living. Respecting each person's culture and individual characteristics
Julie is a sought-after public speaker, lecturer & author providing community talks, facilitated & implementing professional related courses.
Julie is a published blogger and author who is recognized for her expert knowledge with Self Growth supporting & providing assistance with healthy life protocols.
Julie has been recognized by the Stanford Who's Who and the Continental Who's who for her dedication and recognition of excellence as a Health Care Practitioner, Executive, Entrepreneur and Professional standards of ethics.
What makes the work of Julie Doherty stand out? The successful testimonials of her clients becoming well both-young and old, from a wide range of disease and signs of ill health: It has been commented about her humanness, her humour, her willingness to reveal so much of herself, her belief and commitment to her industry and clients, and the easy-to-understand style of her communicating and her simplistic way of explaining treatments and programs to become well. Her understanding of the interconnectedness when there is a problem with health and it is out of balance that it is never just one thing, so addressing all related causes of the health problem/problems that she addresses with you.
To complement our healthy treatment programs Julie has formulated a Skin, Hair & Body Care Range that is good for you “Just For You”, not only will it have your skin looking great, healthy & vibrant. Your skin needs to be fed good healthy nutrients the same as your body