Incidence of breast cancer rising in PH, say experts
The Philippines has the highest incidence of breast cancer in Asia with one in every 13 Filipino woman at risk of getting it in her lifetime.
While the cause has yet to be pinpointed, medical experts have attributed this to several factors including the decision of many Filipino women not to have children or to delay marriage and having kids until they are in their 30s.
Oncologist Dr. Christina Galvez, president of the Philippine Breast Cancer Society (PBCS), said during the Pink Ribbon Day event, held in partnership with SM Cares at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, that the decision to delay having children until their 30s is making Filipino women at risk of having breast cancer because of the longer duration of exposure to estrogen.
“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,“ Galvez explained.
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. Pregnancy and breastfeeding offers some protection against breast cancer.
Due to its high incidence, the PBCS has teamed up with SM Prime Holdings to hold the Pink Ribbon Day to promote breast cancer awareness and to encourage regular breast examination for early detection and intervention.
During the event hosted by Kris Aquino, free consultations and clinical breast exams were conducted. Cancer survivors led by movie and TV director Bibeth Orteza and TV host Jaymee Joaquin, Aquino, SM and PBCS executives signed a pledge wall to fight breast cancer.
Elena Bautista Horn, vice president for corporate affairs of SM Prime, who is herself 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 the support of family and friends.
“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.
Galvez said regular breast examination is the single best way to detect the disease at the earliest possible stage.
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