It’s October and calendars all over the world are packed with events that will be dressed in pink ribbons! The stories of courageous women who have been impacted by breast cancer will inspire and educate us. In the midst of our support and empowerment of women during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we seemed to have forgotten about the men.
We do recognize how breast cancer affects their lives as a husband or a son, but not often do we recognize that men can also be the warriors fighting the disease.
When it comes to men and breast cancer, there is a lack of awareness and stigma that comes with the thought of a man having a “woman’s disease”. Knowing the risk factors can bring more awareness that can be preventative and life-saving, so here are 8 to look out for.
1. Excessive Drinking
If you’re a guy who drinks a half bottle of vodka every night of the week, your risk of breast cancer greatly increases.
Heavy drinking leads to liver damage, which can cause low production of male hormones. In turn, gynecomastia (overdevelopment of male breast tissue) increases your risk of breast cancer as well.
Skipping out on the gym and unhealthy eating habits can lead you on a path to obesity.
Obesity is a risk factor for developing breast cancer because those extra fat cells will convert your male hormones into female hormones. An excess of female hormones increases your risk of breast cancer.
3. Family History
If anyone in your family, male or female, was diagnosed with breast cancer, you are at an increased risk for the disease.
Inheriting a gene mutation, such as the BRCA2 gene, greatly increases your risk for breast and prostate cancer. You may want to ask your doctor about genetic testing, which can reveal gene mutations if you have a strong family history of breast cancer.
4. Klinefelter Syndrome
There’s a chance that you’ve never heard of Klinefelter Syndrome, but it is a condition in which a male is born with an extra X chromosome.
Characteristics like low levels of male hormones, high estrogen levels, and gynecomastia place men born with Klinefelter Syndrome at an increased risk for breast cancer.
5. Estrogen Therapies
If you’ve received estrogen therapy to fight prostate cancer, you are at an increased risk for developing breast cancer.
Men that are undergoing sexual reassignments are thought to be at more risk for breast cancer due to the increase of estrogen utilized in the process.
6. Exposure To Radiation
If you had radiation to treat cancer or a condition that affected your chest area, your risk for breast cancer is increased.
Breast cancer diagnoses most often occur in men who are 70 years old and older. However, that doesn’t mean that younger men are not affected so all men should know their risks.
8. Testicular Issues
If you’ve had inflammation of the testes (orchitis), an undescended testicle, or surgical removal of a testicle, your risk for breast cancer is increased due to the underproduction of male hormones.
This October, as we paint the town pink in honor of breast cancer awareness, let us not forget the men directly impacted by this disease. Let’s continue the fight by educating our sons, dads, granddads, brothers, and uncles on the risk factors for breast cancer. (Source: BlackDoctor.org by Dr. Candace McMillon-Dantley is the health-empowering creator of The Doc Knows and she’s on a mission to motivate you to a life of health.)