Breast cancer is often touted as a woman’s disease while the risk of men developing the disease often goes unheard of. The risk of men developing the disease is estimated at 1 in a 1000. It is 100 times more common in women however.
Men are born with small amounts of breast tissue and 1,900 men are diagnosed every year. Current figures have 192,000 women diagnosed per year, with 40,000 of them succumbing to the disease. That is a pretty big number compared to only 400 men dying of the same infliction. Many men will find the disease leaves them quite embarrassed and alone. Most men will never know of any other men being diagnosed with breast cancer and they’ll live their entire lives not knowing they were even at risk.
The reasons that men get cancer match the same reasons women do too. Causes of breast cancer are raised levels of estrogen, excess fat tissue releasing inflammatory cytokines, radiation exposure and genetics. The gene BRCA2, if mutated, will put any man at risk for not only breast cancer but also prostate cancer. Women are often tested for the mutations of BRCA1 and BRCA2, but men rarely are.
Breast cancer has recently been in the news once again, as scientists are now saying there is a link between diets high in saturated animal fats. These diets may not only speed up the development of the cancer but also increase the risk in women and men.
Scientists from the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program studied the effects of high-fat diets on mice. Only 3 weeks into the test, the mice already showed increased cell growth in the breast and immune system alterations. The study found these changes to be irreversible and may ultimately lead to the deadly disease.
The experiment also found disturbing risks for developing basal-like cancers. The basal-like cancers are less common and only affect 15-20 percent of breast cancers found in the U.S. This type of cancer usually is found only in younger women, but the cancer is known to be more aggressive by growing quicker and spreading to other body parts is more likely. The prognosis for basal-like breast cancer is often poorer.
Whether the mice gained weight or not did not seem to have an effect on the changes to the breast tissue. The scientists say that the damages occurring with a high-fat diet in puberty could be irreversible. A report says that 50 percent of breast cancer fatalities happen to women under the age of 50, amplifying the need for everyone to heed their advice and avoid the high-fat diets.
For men, they need to know how to self-diagnose themselves and learn the symptoms of breast cancer. Men should be looking for an area of redness or a dimple-like structure of the skin that covers the breast or nipple. The second symptom or sign is an inward turning nipple or a nipple that has a discharge of fluid. The third thing men should look for is a lump or thickening in and around the breast.
Because most men don’t know the symptoms or what to look for, they are often diagnosed very late on in the breast cancer’s progression. Knowing the signs and symptoms, like in any cancer, can help diagnose the disease early and offer higher survival rates. If men are unsure whether they have any of these symptoms, they need to get checked out by a doctor as soon as they can. First, all men need to know that breast cancer is a real threat, in not only women, but in men too.
By Brent Matsalla