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EMU Health Sciences Faculty Academic Staff Member Releases a Statement on Breast Cancer Awareness Month

EMU Health Sciences Faculty Academic Staff Member Releases a Statement on Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Published Date: Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) Health Sciences Faculty, Nutrition and Dietetics Department academic staff member Eliz Arter made a statement on the occasion of “Breast Cancer Awareness Month”:

“Each “Pink October” can Save a Life”

“Each year, the month of October is referred as the “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” and is symbolized with a pink ribbon. Although breast cancer is commonly observed in women, it can also be rarely seen in men as well. According to 2020 data reported by the International Agency for Cancer Research of World Health Organization, when female and male genders are compared on a world-wide scale, breast cancer is one jump ahead of lung cancer and has been identified as the most frequently diagnosed cancer among all types of cancers. On the other hand, breast cancer is ranked as the 5th in terms of the mortality rates.

The main risk factors for breast cancer include family history, late menopause, early menstruation, never having been pregnant or being 30 years or older in the first pregnancy, not breastfeeding, and postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy. In addition to these factors, immobility, high stress, extreme smoking and consumption of alcohol as well as an unbalanced diet are classified as modifiable risk factors. 

When the relationship between nutrition and breast cancer is analyzed, the research shows that the excessive consumption of saturated fat which can cause obesity and, excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer. On the other hand, less consumption of processed meat products (for instance, salami, sausage etc.) along with frequent consumption of low-starchy vegetables can create a protective effect. Soy products are referred as a debatable topic and there has not been certain data demonstrating whether this type of food increase or decrease the risks.

Accordingly, although consumption of soy products up to 1-2 servings a day is considered safe for everyone to reduce the risk of breast cancer with nutrition, it is useful to consult a nutritionist for more information on this subject. In addition, care should be taken to consume at least 3 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit per day, and that each portion is of a different color and variety. Incorporating more vegetable protein sources such as legumes in the diet and consuming as little processed meat products as possible will also reduce the risk of breast cancer. Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption and using vegetable oils such as olive oil instead of saturated fats such as butter and margarine without burning them will also reduce this risk. In short, adopting the Mediterranean Diet, which has positive effects on health in many studies, will reduce the risk of breast cancer, as in all cancers. A healthy body weight, stress control, quality social life and regular exercise program are other factors that play an important role in protecting against breast cancer. In addition to all these, monthly personal breast examination and annual check-up will help in preventing breast cancer or detecting the tumor in the early stages, especially in individuals with a family history.

As stated at the beginning, despite the increase in the number of new diagnoses, the decline in breast cancer deaths has been possible with the development of early diagnosis/treatment methods and increased awareness in the society. At this point, it is useful to remind once again the proverb 'Early Diagnosis Saves Lives', especially when it comes to cancer. Taking a day off, or even a few hours of the year, a routine examination can change your life completely and shed light on someone else's path.”