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Revealed: 50% of last year's insurance claims were for women with cancer

by , 18 June 2013

Cancer claims accounted for nearly 50% of all female claims. This is according to recently released 2012 critical illness claims statistics by Liberty. Read on to find out what Liberty also reported and discover what you can do to reduce your breast cancer risk.

According to Nicholas van der Nest, Divisional Director of Risk Products at Liberty Retail, while cancer claims account for nearly 50% of all female claims, that figure came to only 32% of the claims from males.

This means the 2012 critical illness claims statistics by Liberty seem to support statistics by the World Health Organisation that one in every 11 women aged between 20 and 59 years old will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

So it’s no wonder that breast cancer remains the leading killer among women in this age group.

While this is the case, van der Nest pointed out that although the current insurance claims trends indicate that the most common critical illnesses in South Africa are cancers, heart attacks, strokes and coronary artery by-pass surgeries. He added that of the R2.3 billion paid out in total claims in 2012, R370 million of that was towards critical illness cover.

According to Liberty the aim of publishing their claims statistics is to help consumers make informed decisions about their health and wealth.

After all, “the quickest answer is to live a healthier lifestyle and go for regular check-ups, thereby reducing your risk, especially if there are hereditary conditions at play,” says van der Nest.

While these breast cancer statistics are alarming, it’s never been more critical that you reduce your risk.

Breast cancer prevention: Here’s how you to reduce your risk

According to Nutrition & Healing, a study by the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles found that a change in wine preference could mean a boost in protection from breast cancer.

“Researchers say substances in red wine may act as aromatase inhibitors and these are the exact aromatase inhibitors used for treatment of breast cancer in post-menopausal women,” writes Christine O’Brien in Nutrition & Healing. Aromatase is an enzyme that helps the body make oestrogen, and extra oestrogen can lead to cancer formation.

But that’s not all there is to breast cancer prevention…

According to the Mayo Clinic, lifestyle changes have been shown to decrease breast cancer risk even in high-risk women. The following are steps the Mayo Clinic recommends you can take to lower your risk:

  • Don't smoke. Accumulating evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women. In addition, not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.
  • Control your weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.
  • Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer.If you're taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor about other options. You may be able to manage your symptoms with non hormonal therapies, such as physical activity. If you decide that the benefits of short-term hormone therapy outweigh the risks, use the lowest dose that works for you.
  • Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution. Medical-imaging methods such as computerised tomography use high doses of radiation, which have been linked with breast cancer risk. Reduce your exposure by having such tests only when absolutely necessary. “While more studies are needed, some research suggests a link between breast cancer and exposure to the chemicals found in some workplaces, gasoline fumes and vehicle exhaust,” says the Mayo Clinic.

There you have it. The statistics don’t lie, so take these steps today to reduce your risk of breast cancer.

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