Breast Cancer Symptoms and Natural Foods that Can Help Prevent It

Breast cancer is one of the main causes of high mortality in women. Based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2018, an estimated 627,000 women died from this disease. This condition often occurs because many women are not aware of the symptoms and characteristics of breast cancer from the start, so they only go to the doctor when the stage is severe.

Symptoms and characteristics of breast cancer can appear without you knowing it, especially at an early stage. By recognizing these symptoms, you can still prevent breast cancer from getting worse, so that the treatment can be even more effective.

Various Symptoms and Characteristics of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a disease that attacks the breast tissue and its surroundings. This disease causes symptoms or signs that are different at each stage of breast cancer.

In stage zero, cancer cells have formed, but the development is not severe and generally no lumps are found. Only at stage one until the next, cancer cells have developed and tumors have formed with different sizes and spreads at each stage. The higher the stage, the more severe the development and spread of cancer cells and tumors, so that the symptoms that appear can be more pronounced.

Most women only know that breast cancer is characterized by these lumps and tumors. In fact, there are many other signs and symptoms that mark the appearance of this disease. In fact, lumps that are classified as breast cancer have certain characteristics, which are different from other types of lumps.

Here are some of the symptoms, signs, or characteristics that may appear in people with breast cancer:

1. A lump in the breast

A lump in the breast is the most recognizable early symptom of breast cancer. Apart from the breasts, this lump can appear around the upper chest or armpits. The reason is, the breast tissue extends down to the arm.

The bumps are sometimes not visible directly to the naked eye, but will be felt when touched. Cancer lumps are also not painful or painful.

In full, here are the characteristics of a breast cancer lump:
  • Texture of soft lumps towards hard with indistinct borders.
  • The surface of the bump is uneven.
  • A lump attached to the breast.
  • There is only one lump.
  • The lump is not painful or painful when pressed.
  • Settles after menstruation is over.

Routinely check the appearance and condition of your breasts every time you shower so you can detect any problems as early as possible. This will make it easier for you to recognize any foreign and abnormal lumps in your breasts.

When the lumps don't go away after weeks, you need to get them checked right away.

2. Breast skin changes

Changes in the texture of the breast skin are often a symptom of cancer, both at an early and advanced stage. Cancer cells can attack healthy breast skin cells and cause inflammation, so that the original texture changes.

Unfortunately, this one symptom is often misunderstood as a common skin infection. To be more sure, be aware of breast skin changes that occur due to cancer as below:
  • There is thickened skin around the breast.
  • The skin of the breast is dimpled or hollow like an orange peel, because the lymph vessels underneath are pulled until it finally wrinkles. This generally occurs at an advanced stage.

These reddish signs can occur in several types of breast cancer, including inflammatory breast cancer and Paget's disease. In inflammatory breast cancer, the entire breast may look red or have red spots and feel sore.

However, in Paget's disease, a red and scaly rash generally occurs in the nipple and surrounding areas. The redness can also feel itchy and a bit like eczema.

If you feel these symptoms, you should immediately see a doctor to make sure, whether this is related to breast cancer or common skin infections.

3. Colored discharge from the nipple

Other symptoms and features of breast cancer that may occur, especially at an advanced stage, are discharge from the nipple. However, this liquid is not breast milk. This fluid can be thin or thick and reddish-brown in color, like blood.

This fluid does not always indicate cancer. It could be that this discharge from the nipple is a sign of another health problem, such as a breast infection.

However, there is nothing wrong with seeing a doctor when you experience it. Your doctor will examine your condition and diagnose the exact cause of these signs.

4. Swollen lymph nodes

Swelling of the lymph nodes can also be a feature of breast cancer. The reason is, cancer cells in the breast can move and spread to the lymph nodes.

The lymph nodes (KGB) are a collection of immune system tissues that fight against foreign microorganisms, including cancer cells. If cancer cells get into the lymph nodes, these glands will experience swelling.

In addition to the armpits, lymph nodes near the collarbone also usually swell. These lymph node lumps generally tend to be small and dense, but feel soft to the touch.

This lump will also grow large and attach to the tissue around the armpit.

5. Breast size is not the same

Generally, both women's breasts are not exactly the same size and shape. However, you must be vigilant if your breasts look significantly lewd. This condition could be a sign or symptom of cancer in your breast.

One large breast can occur due to a lump in the breast, due to cancer cells that develop in the area. The side of the breast where the lump is swollen, so it will appear to be drooping or drooping from the other side of the breast.

Thus, the side of the breast affected by this cancer will appear larger than the other side of the breast.

If you experience swelling in your breasts for no apparent reason, don't hesitate to get it checked out by a doctor. The doctor will determine the cause of these symptoms.

6. The nipple is retracted or pulled

Apart from the discharge from the nipple, other nipple changes can also be a symptom and a sign that you have breast cancer. This change, namely the insertion of the nipple or the nipple as being pulled in.

This condition occurs because cancer cells can invade and change the cells behind the nipple. These changes can cause the nipple to reverse or to protrude inward. In fact, normal nipples will appear to stick out.

In addition to the ingrown tip of the nipple, the shape and size of the nipple often changes far from the original.

Even so, it does not mean that you are automatically positive for breast cancer if you experience these symptoms. Changes in the appearance of the nipples can also be caused by breast infections or cysts.

Make sure you call your doctor if these symptoms are new or have not been tested.

Natural Foods To Prevent Breast Cancer

Not only provide the body with the nutrients it needs, some healthy foods are believed to help slow down the development of cancer cells. These foods are generally high in fiber and low in saturated fat.

The reason is, saturated fat is alleged to be one of the substances in food that causes breast cancer. Meanwhile, fiber, such as in vegetables and fruits, can actually reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states, running a diet dominated by vegetables and fruit can reduce the risk of breast cancer by up to 15 percent. Therefore, breast cancer sufferers are advised to consume these foods at least 5 varied portions each day.

Then, what fibrous foods are good for prevention as well as for breast cancer sufferers? Here's the list for you:

1. Vegetable tubers

Vegetables that are tuberous or are included in the cruciferous family, such as cauliflower, green mustard (caisim), broccoli, and green cabbage, are believed to be foods to prevent breast cancer.

This type of vegetable is rich in antioxidants and glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are substances in food that help protect cells from DNA damage. This substance can also kill cancer cells by inhibiting the formation of tumor blood vessels and tumor cell migration that triggers metastasis.

2. Green vegetables

Healthy foods that are good for other breast cancer sufferers, namely green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, radishes, or lettuce. This type of vegetable also contains antioxidants and high fiber. The antioxidants help fight the effects of free radicals in the body that can damage healthy cells and trigger cancer.

Reporting from, generally, dark fruit and vegetables contain more antioxidants than other fruits or vegetables. Therefore, you can choose darker green vegetables in order to get these benefits more optimally.

3. Carrots, tomatoes, and oranges

All three contain high carotenoids. Carotenoids are the bright red, yellow, and orange pigments found in many fruits and vegetables. These compounds contain important antioxidants to help fight free radicals that can cause breast cancer.

Apart from carrots, tomatoes and oranges, you can also eat guava, mango, tomato, sweet potato, pumpkin, and watermelon.

4. Celery, basil, and coriander

Celery, basil and coriander contain apigenin, a flavonoid antioxidant known to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. According to a study in the journal HHS Public Access, apigenin can inhibit the growth of HER2 breast cancer cells. However, further research is needed to prove this conclusion.

Apart from consuming celery, basil, and coriander, you can also consume chamomile tea which is a source of apigenin.

5. Olive oil

Olive oil is a source of omega 3 fats. Compared to trans fats and saturated fats, choose food sources with healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids.

Research in the journal Breast Cancer Research states that women with breast cancer who regularly consume omega 3 fatty acids have a 25% lower chance of relapse within 7 years of diagnosis. This is thought to be because omega 3 fatty acids are able to reduce inflammation in the body which is one of the causes of breast cancer.

Apart from olive oil, several other types of foods contain omega-3 fatty acids, namely salmon, sardines, cod liver oil, walnuts and avocados.

6. Berries

Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries, contain anthocyanin compounds that have anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties, including tumors in the breast. Therefore, berries can be a good food for breast cancer sufferers and can be a preventive against this disease.

7. Soybeans

Soybeans are a recommended source of healthy food for breast cancer sufferers because they are rich in protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Not only that, soybeans also contain antioxidants called isoflavones.

A 2017 study found that high isoflavone intake was associated with reduced mortality from various causes. This is what makes isoflavone-rich foods recommended for breast cancer sufferers.

Soybeans are usually processed in various types of food, such as tofu, tempeh, or soy milk. You can also eat edamame soybeans to get its benefits.

8. Whole grains

Whole grains are good foods for breast cancer sufferers and can be a preventative for this disease. The reason is, this food does not go through many processes so that the nutrients in it tend to be solid and not eroded.

This food is also rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. As reported by the Cleveland Clinic, researchers in China found that high fiber intake can change the work of hormones in breast cancer.

Foods that are included in whole grains are brown rice, black rice, wheat, corn, and sorghum.

9. Non-fat milk

Milk and milk products are indeed foods that need to be avoided because they contain high fat. However, the vitamin D content in milk and milk products is beneficial for breast cancer sufferers. Therefore, milk and nonfat milk products can be a good food for breast cancer sufferers.

Research shows that women with low vitamin D levels have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. The reason is, vitamin D is believed to play a role in controlling normal breast cell growth and may be able to stop the growth of breast cancer cells.

To get these benefits, you can choose other foods that also contain vitamin D, such as fish, soy milk, or eggs.

10. Onions

Based on research conducted by scientists from the University of Puerto Rico, women who ate more onions had a 67% lower risk of developing breast cancer than women who didn't eat them.

This conclusion was obtained after conducting research for 6 years in Puerto Rico. The region was chosen because the number of people with breast cancer is lower than other regions in the United States or Europe. Participants in the region also tended to consume more onions, one of which was from cooking with sofrito seasoning.

However, this study is still being conducted on a small scale, so further research is still needed to prove these foods can help prevent breast cancer.

The Importance of Seeing a Doctor Regularly

Even if you don't have the lumps or symptoms of breast cancer above, you still need to have your breasts checked regularly. By getting checked out, you will be able to intervene to prevent this disease from progressing to an advanced stage and spreading to other organs.

Remember, not all breast cancers show symptoms in the early stages. When the doctor finds a suspicious sign on your breast, he or she can determine whether it is breast cancer or not, by performing various tests for breast cancer.

Then the doctor will immediately provide the most appropriate treatment. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, the doctor will provide breast cancer treatment according to your condition.

Checking breast cancer symptoms can be done alone, clinical, and mammography.

Every woman is advised to start doing mammography for the first time at the age of 45 years. However, if you have a family history of breast cancer, screening can be done earlier as recommended by your doctor.

Even when you enter the age of 40 years and over you need to do mammography regularly. The reason is, the risk of breast cancer increases with age. So, do not delay to check for breast cancer, because breast cancer at an early stage can still be cured.

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