Breast cancer, more than a hereditary disease

One in eight women will suffer from breast cancer, and October, the month dedicated to awareness of this disease, is an excellent opportunity to highlight aspects of this health problem, such as risk factors and timely detection.

Similarly, it is important to clarify some myths that are far from being a reality. Mirna Santiago, head of the Oncological Surgery Service of the Oncology Institute ‘Dr. Heriberto Pieter’, who guides the population on the importance of timely assistance to health centers for evaluations and screenings that will contribute to early detection.

In the Dominican Republic, breast cancer ranks first, taking as reference the statistics of the Hospital Registry of Tumors of the aforementioned institute corresponding to the period 2019–2020. “There was an increase in 2019 and in 2020 there was less recruitment of patients due to the impact of Covid, since people did not attend consultations,” specifies the specialist. According to the statistics of this registry, during 2019, 643 new cases of breast cancer were detected out of a total of 2,375 cases of different types of cancer, while in 2020, 522 new cases of breast cancer were detected out of a total of 1,668 malignant pathologies. Here you can see the drop in cases.

About the cause of this cancer

But what causes breast cancer? To this question, Santiago answers that between 5% and 10% is defined by genetic factors, descendants of a mother, grandmother, who have suffered from the disease. The rest is attributed to environmental factors, such as obesity, alcohol and tobacco consumption, women who have not had a pregnancy (who have not become pregnant), postmenopausal patients who have had hormone replacement therapy, early menarche (menstruation at an early age). early). The largest population of breast cancer finds the main factor in hormonal alterations, either estrogen or progesterone. But the specialist assures that the first factor is being a woman. “Being a woman predisposes to breast cancer.” However, she also says that This disease is not exclusive to the female sex. since 1% of the male population can suffer from the disease, a reality that can touch any man and that has not yet been assimilated by the population. On the other hand, Santiago maintains that there are factors that protect against breast cancer, such as breastfeeding, since during this period estrogens and progesterones decrease and contribute to the protection of these sudden hormonal changes. In addition, breast milk has benefits for the good health of the baby. Santiago assures that breast cancer is more frequent in the white race due to estrogen and progesterone. There is a tendency to obesity. Nonetheless, he reports that breast cancer ranks first in many African-American countries.


Around breast cancer there are some myths that many people take for granted and that escape reality.

Use of antiperspirant: There is no relationship between the use of antiperspirant and breast cancer, what has been oriented to the population is that they use deodorants that do not contain aluminum, but it is more for an issue that the sebaceous glands are not obstructed and thus avoid hidradenitis .

Bumps on the breast: There is also no relationship between a blow to the breast and breast cancer. Normally, the patient finds a tumor after a breast trauma and understands that it appeared after the blow, but she already had the lesion.

Coffee consumption: Nor does coffee have a relationship with breast cancer, even, this is an antioxidant that helps release free radicals, it is rather protective.


There are non-modifiable risk factors such as age, race, genetic factors, among others. But there are other risk factors that are modifiable and have to do with leading healthy lifestyle habits to reduce the chances of developing breast cancer. In this sense, Dr. Santiago offers some recommendations such as trying to maintain a low body mass index (an adequate weight), which is achieved through a healthy diet, avoiding sugars and limiting carbohydrate consumption. The same way, recommends doing 30 to 45 minutes of daily exercise, getting out of a sedentary lifestyle and performing relaxation therapies to reduce stress levels.

On the other hand, Dr. Santiago mentions the consumption of red meat, because it is said to be related to certain types of cancer, not just breast cancer. “There is a paranoia with the consumption of red meat and it is appropriate to mention that it in itself is not related to cancer, the one that really affects this disease is processed red meat. Red meat contains nitrite and when processed it turns into nitrosamine which is a potential carcinogen,” she warns. She also mentions sausages being related to cancer. The specialist makes other warnings related to the packaging of foods that contain preservatives. In this sense, she calls for the substitution of foods that come in canned containers to avoid the oxidation of metals, for foods that come in glass containers. In addition, there are foods that contain a lot of preservatives.

About October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This is an initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO), whose objective is to create awareness and raise awareness about this health problem, as well as to increase attention and support for the early detection and treatment of this disease. On October 19, the International Day to Fight Breast Cancer is commemorated, where institutions around the world, civil society and individuals in particular come together carrying out various activities, making a call for attention.