Happy Breast Cancer Awareness Month! The month of October has turned into Pinktober, just as the leaves are turning from green to red, yellow and orange. And it's all for a great cause! According to research, close to 1 million women in the world are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. The awareness campaigns held during this month are aimed at highlighting the nature and challenges of fighting breast cancer and the opportunities we have to combat it. It's also a really good time to reflect on our lifestyles and learn how we can take control by reducing risk factors and improving early detection.
Here's how to make breast cancer awareness part of your healthy lifestyle:
Getting Regular Mammograms
Early detection of breast cancer is critical when it comes to surviving the disease. Mammograms don't prevent breast cancer, but because they are able to detect early stages, they have been shown to lower the risk of death due to breast cancer by close to 35 percent in women aged 50 and over. Screening can start as early as 40 years, and it is particularly recommended that women aged between 50 and 74 be screened every two years. Talk to your doctor about the age and frequency that's best for you.
Performing Breast Self-Exams (BSE)
Regular self-examination of your breasts is another way to maximize the chance of early detection. Research shows that 20 percent of the time, a BSE is successful in detecting breast cancer. Just like regular check-ups with a doctor or dentist, chedule it into your calendar every month - 10 minutes is all it takes. Your doctor show you how to perform one, or you can visit this site.
Knowing Your Family History
Your family history can have a significant bearing on whether you develop breast cancer or not. If someone in your family tree has had breast cancer, there's a liklihood that you have inherited the same gene mutations that can lead to it. Knowing your history and knowing your options is important when it comes to detection and prevention. Make sure you tell your doctor of anyone in your family who has had breast cancer.
Controlling Your Weight
Obesity increases the chances of breast cancer especially during and after menopause. A study conducted in 2006 by the American Cancer Society found that overweight adults were at risk for breast cancer. According to the findings, women who gained 60 pounds or more after the age of 18 had double the chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer in their post-menopausal stage, compared to women who did not gain weight over the same period. Weight gain in women is closely associated with high levels of estrogen because fat tissue is the principal source of estrogen in post-menopausal women. It can be difficult to feel like you have control over this part of your lifestyle, but making changes in the following two areas will definitely help.
Eating a Healthy Diet
A diet rich in nutrients - comprised primarily of foods like vegetables, fruits, proteins and healthy fats - has been linked through study to reduce the risk of breast cancer. There are plenty of delicious options for foods that promote the growth of healthy cells and help to control your weight like fish, whole grains, squash, kale and more. It should go without saying that drinking too much alcohol and smoking are not part of a healthy diet and can in fact exponentially increase your risk of developing cancer. Just remember to put only good things in your body if you want good things out of it!
Getting Enough Physical Activity
The Department of Health and Human Services in the US recommends that an individual should engage in moderate aerobic activities for about 150 minutes each week. Alternatively, you can engage in 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week while strength training two times a week. Whatever you decide to do, physical activity was found by a combination of 31 studies to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by 12 percent. Physical activity inludes gym activities and other workouts such as walking, cycling and jogging. For example - you can join a local breast cancer awareness walk or 5K!
All these things are part of living a healthy lifestyle all year, not just in October. Make a commitment this month to schedule a mammogram and BSEs, eat healthier and move more!