SolveYourProblem Article Series: Breast Cancer
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Breast Cancer and The Role Of Your Genetics

In the battle against breast cancer researchers have looked into two main areas in search of an answer as to what is causing this disease. One factor they believe can play an important role is that of genetics. The other is related to our environment and the increasing levels of toxins that play a major role in our modern age.

In helping women to keep aware of their personal risk factors, organizations have listed an individual at a higher risk if they have a close relative that has had breast cancer. This could mean a mother, sister, aunt or cousin that is a part of a family blood line.

There are presently two genetic markers that indicate a vulnerability to this illness. They are listed as BRCA1 and BRCA2. These are clearly designated Breast Cancer Gene 1 and Breast Cancer Gene 2. As a rule most people have two copies of these genes in their cells.

Their normal function is to maintain the health of the breast cells - to keep them developing and to ward against the possibility of cancer. They do this by producing a protein that, in effect, controls normal cell growth. However, if these genes have abnormalities or mutations a vulnerability is created that could open the door to breast cancer - to allow an abnormal 'growth' to go unchecked.

The possibility of inheriting an abnormality can come about even if only one of the parents has it. It is important to keep in mind however, that for most breast cancers this particular issue is not the established cause. In fact, it is estimated that it may only account for ten percent of them.

Without taking a specific test to verify any genetic abnormality it is possible to assess the probability of its existence if a person has close blood relatives on either side of the family that have had breast cancer before the age of fifty, if the cancer was in both breasts, if there is an instance of one person having both ovarian and breast cancer, or if a male member of the family has also suffered from breast cancer.

It is good to note however, that if the genetic disposition exists, it is possible that the risk of one's children inheriting it will diminish over time if family members marry with others who do not carry the abnormal genes.

Again, it is important to bear in mind that even if there is a genetic vulnerability, it does not necessarily indicate that a person will get breast cancer. There are many other factors that will weigh in as well, such as the lifestyle one leads, the toxicity of the environment and as well the fact that there are other genes that continue to work to protect the health of the body.

Whether one decides to pursue genetic testing or not, the research indicates that most women who get breast cancer do not come from a family history of it. The knowledge that it is not a conclusive factor and that there are a number of other issues involved can give hope that, whatever our personal circumstances may indicate, there is much we can pursue in the way of preventative measures.

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