Breast Cancer Cause - Medical Studies


A human female breast is made up of fat, connective tissues and many lobules that produce milk. Cell is the structural and functional unit of life and every part of human body is made up of cells. Breast is also made up of tiny cells which multiply to replace the old cells and form new cells. Breast cancer is produced due to rapid multiplication of cells which is out of control. There are different types of breast cancer depending upon the part of the breast from which it arises. For example, if cancer starts from the ducts that supply milk is called as ductal carcinoma which is the most common type. If cancer initiate from the cells of lobules, it is called as lobular carcinoma and not present commonly.

Breast cancer may be invasive or non-invasive. Invasive breast cancer is one which begins from the inside of lobules or ducts and spread nearby parts. In invasive carcinoma the cancer cells may reach to other parts through lymph nodes. Cancer cells are transmitted to other parts through blood or lymphatic system.

Non-invasive breast cancer is limited to the place of origin. It does not come out from the place of origin for spreading to other parts of the body. Initially they are non-invasive but slowly it may become invasive and spread to other parts of the body. The best symptom that describes breast cancer is the presence of a lump in the breast. It is important to get it checked by any health practitioner for definite diagnoses.  Other signs of breast cancer are:

- Presence of thickened tissue 

- Swelling of the armpits

- Presence of rash around the nipples 

- Pain in the breast on touch

- Nipple changes its appearance and may become sunken

- Breast may change its shape and size

Causes of breast cancer

A research was conducted by the Canadian researchers and it was published in the November 2012 issue of Environmental Health where they stated that certain jobs such as manufacturing of automotive plastics, food canning, are also related with the increased risk of cancer. Such jobs are responsible because human body comes in direct contact with the harmful carcinogens.

Women who eat fast food and do not eat green vegetables and fruits are more prone to breast cancer. It is presented by Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation and Carol Simontacchi in Crazy Makers where is stated that fast foods are made up of cheap nutrients and consists of chemicals, harmful fats and artificial ingredients. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute believed that half of cancer is caused due to improper diet.

Many studies have been conducted over the years which pointed to the fact that when cattle are fed with artificial growth hormones it lead to increasing rate of breast cancer. (Epstein. International Journal of Health Services. 1996) (Bohlooly-Y, et al. Diabetes. January 2005). In 1994, Monsanto started selling a hormone injection named as "recombinant bovine growth hormone" or rBST. This hormone was produced to increase the production of milk from cows. It is banned in some countries such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and EU. rBST leads to a rise in a growth hormone known as IGF-1 or insulin growth factor in human who consumed animals fed with growth hormones. IGF-1 is closely related to insulin and is an important risk factor for breast cancer. (Epstein. Internal Journal of Health Services. 1996).

Another important factor responsible for causing cancer is high intake of sugars and carbohydrates as these cause quick increase in glucose level of blood. In 1924, Otto Warburg, who is a Nobel Prize winner found the connection between glucose and cancer. He found that cancer cells differ in generating energy from the glucose as compare to the normal cells. Summarized in a few words, “the prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar."  (Dr. Otto Warburg, Lecture delivered to Nobel Laureates on June 30, 1966 at Lindau, Lake Constance, Germany). Warburg found that intake of high sugar and simple carbohydrates lead to rapid increase of blood glucose level and it immediately triggers the pancreas to produce high levels of insulin to compensate the blood sugar level. This is done to maintain normal blood glucose level but it leads to unhealthy consequences. Insulin and insulin growth factor are closely related to promotion of cellular growth.   (Hadsell, Bonnette. Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia. 2000)

Inflammation acts like fire in spreading cancerous cells. Inflammatory response is protective but sometimes it may become chronic and causes problems. The chemicals used for healing of wounds are known to promote growth of cancer cells. When white blood cells reach the site of inflammation they initiate formation of new blood vessels. Inflammation promotes cancer cell growth by accumulation of large number of blood vessels at the site of inflammation. (Sgambato, Cittadini. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences. 2010)

Estrogen of different varieties is manufactured by women during their reproductive life. Ovaries are responsible for producing estrogen before menopause. After menopause, estrogen is produced by the adrenal glands in smaller amount. Obese women have more fat deposits; therefore more estrogen is produced in their body. Estrogen produced after menopause is not properly utilized by the body cells. This additional estrogen is known to get deposited in the breast tissue thus posing a risk for breast cancer. If we have healthy liver, normal functioning of gastric system then our body can easily metabolize this extra estrogen but we do not have an ability to eliminate it out of the body we pose a risk to the development of breast cancer. (Muti P, et al. Epidemiology. 2000) (Eliassen, et al. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention. 2008) 

Liver is known to initiate detoxification process. Another organ for detoxification is healthy intestines. Liver and intestines helps in eliminating toxic chemicals and prevent DNA damage. Liver is responsible for eliminating excessive estrogen and related compounds such as xenoestrogens which are responsible for producing breast cancer. (Davis, et al. Environmental Health Perspectives. 1993) (Ibarluzea, et al. Cancer Causes and Control. 2004)

Researchers from the Women's College Hospital, Women's College Research Institute, Toronto, reported in the journal Diabetologia that post menopausal women who lived longer with breast cancer are susceptible to develop diabetes as compare to other women who did not have breast cancer. Past research by the lead researcher Dr. Lorraine Lipcombe, had already shown that women with diabetes have higher risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. This study explores the link between diabetes and breast cancer demonstrates that the trend goes both ways.  Thus, diabetes poses a great risk of developing breast cancer due to increased intake of insulin secreting drugs.

Research has been done at the American Cancer Society and it has been found by the researchers that women who smoke are at greater risk of having breast cancer. A study was published online February 28, 2013 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, in which researchers collected data from 73,388 women in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS-II) Nutrition Cohort. A cohort study includes large number of people over time. A follow up was done for more than 13 years, and researchers counted 3,721 cases of invasive breast cancer. Incidence of breast cancer was 24% higher in smokers than in nonsmokers.

Researchers found that the risk of breast cancer is high in women who started smoking early in the age. Women who started smoking at an early age are 61% at higher risk as compare to women who never smoked. It is said by Mia Gaudet, PhD, American Cancer Society director of genetic epidemiology that breast tissue is not properly developed in woman till she has her first child and therefore younger women at higher risk of developing breast cancer due to harmful effects of smoking.

Tests for the diagnosis of breast cancer

It is difficult for doctors to find out early stage breast cancer. Doctors cannot predict which women are at higher risk. They have studied different aspects to effectively pick out the affected women from the large group. Many researchers believe that cells from the breast cancer break down and start circulating in the blood. These cancer cells can be detected by sensitive lab tests. Many new imaging techniques have emerged with the advent of technology.

New technology has given us different ways for cancer diagnosis. If cancer is detected at an early stage, there are chances of complete recovery. Natural therapies are important because these include all the natural ingredients that are useful for our body. We should not forget that any woman may get affected if any of the above risk factor or cause is present. Thousands of studies are being done to find the cause and early detection of the cancer so that they may save lives. The best thing for women is to study and find out complete information about different causes and their preventive measures for breast cancer.

Stages of breast cancer

Breast cancer is divided into different stages depending upon the size of the breast tumour and its spread to other parts of the body. These stages are described using the roman numerals 0, I, II, III and IV and letters A, B, and C.

First stage cancer is early stage cancer and four stage cancer is advanced stage where cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body.

Stage 0

Stage 0 is benign and does not spread to other parts of the body. It is confined to the internal lining of the breast duct. The cancer cells have not spread outside to the neighbouring tissues.

Stage IA

The size of the breast tumors is less than 2 cm and it is no more than ¾ inch across. It has not spread yet.

Stage IB

The size of the tumour is not more than 2 cms across but it has spread to the lymph nodes.

Stage IIA

The size of the tumor is not more than 2 centimeters across, but cancer cells are found underarm lymph nodes. The size of the tumour may be between 2 and 5 centimeters or 3/4 of an inch and 2 inches across, but the cancer is not found underarm lymph nodes.

Stage IIB

The size of the tumor is between 2 and 5 centimeters across, and the cancer cells are found underarm lymph nodes. The size of the tumour may be more than 5 centimeters across, and the cancer cells are not found underarm lymph nodes.

Stage IIIA

The size of the breast tumor is not more than 5 centimeters across, and the cancer cells are found underarm lymph nodes that are present near the adjacent tissues. The cancer cells may also spread to lymph nodes behind the breastbone during this stage. The size of the tumour may be more than 5 centimeters across. The cancer cells are found underarm lymph nodes attached to the adjacent tissue. The cancer cells may be found in lymph nodes behind the breastbone and are not found underarm lymph nodes.

Stage IIIB

The size of the breast tumor may be of any size, and it has spread to the chest wall or the skin of the breast. There is swelling of the breast and lumps are found in the breast skin. The cancer cells may also be found underarm lymph nodes and these lymph nodes are found attached with the adjacent tissue. The cancer cells may also be found behind the breast bone.

Stage IIIC

The size of the breast tumor may be of any size, and cancer cells may be found in lymph nodes behind the breastbone and under the arm. The cancer cells may also be found in the lymph nodes above or below the collarbone.

Stage IV

The size of the tumor can be any size, and cancer cells are found in other parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver, bones, or brain.