The decision to delay having children until their 30s is making Filipino women at risk of having breast cancer because of longer duration of exposure to estrogen, an expert oncologist said.
“Women naturally produce estrogen through the ovaries. It is a natural hormone. But this hormone feeds cancer cells so when you have constant high levels of estrogen in your body, it raises your risk of breast cancer. The production of this hormone only stops when you get pregnant and give birth so when you have kids, it shortens the period of your exposure to this type of hormone,“ said Christina Galvez during the Pink Ribbon Day event, held in partnership with SM Cares at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City last month.
She said a recent study showed that majority of Filipino women (58 percent) want to delay having children until their late 30s because of their careers.
Other risk factors she pointed out are intake of oral contraceptive pills, high fat diet, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol consumption and family history of cancer.
Unknown to many, Galvez said pregnancy and breastfeeding offers some protection against breast cancer.
Galvez urged Filipinas, including career women, to have their regular breast examination as this is the best way to detect the disease at the earliest possible stage.
“An ounce of prevention is better than cure as they say and we want to tell women that we will be able to survive breast cancer if we catch it early. This can only be done through self-examination and clinical checks,” she said.
Women aged 20 and above can self-examine their breast right after their monthly period. This is done by using the pads of the fingers in a circular pattern moving from the center of the breast going out including the nipple-areola and armpit areas to detect the presence of lumps, skin changes, nipple discharge and changes in the nipple color or texture.
Clinical examinations must also be conducted every one to three years and if a woman is 40 years and above. Mammography screenings must also be done every year.
During the event, free consultations and clinical breast exams were conducted for free. Cancer survivors led by movie and TV director Bibeth Orteza and TV host Jaymee Joaquin, Kris Aquino, Shoe Mart and PBCS executives signed a pledge wall to fight breast cancer.
Elena Bautista Horn, vice president for corporate affairs of SM Prime, who is also a breast cancer survivor said “Pink Ribbon Day” is their way of telling women that breast cancer is not a death sentence but a challenge that can be won with early detection with the help of prayers, and support of family and friends.
“Breast cancer is not a death sentence. There are lots of technology now available. What is important is early detection and of course with the help of your family and friends. My twins inspired me to keep going and to fight. So to all women out there, don’t be afraid to have yourself checked. You have to do it for you and your loved ones,” Horn said.