October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Ladies, as you may (or may not) know, a lump doesn’t always mean breast cancer—it could be a cyst, fibrosis or benign tumors. Did you know that breast cancer isn’t always a lump? It could present itself by swelling, warmth, redness, dimpling, itchiness or a rash. Did you know that fertility treatments don’t raise your breast cancer risk? And finally, did you know that in 2015, about 2,350 cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men (a man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000)?

It is estimated that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer—which is also the second leading cause of death among women. And while cancer is scary, most women today survive breast cancer (hip, hip hooray!).

Genetic risk factors that cannot be changed include age, race, family history, personal health history, early menstruation and late menopause (after 55). The good news is that with early detection and increasing treatment options, breast cancer is on the decline.

We’ve compiled a top 10 list of how our risk for breast cancer can perhaps be lessened as it’s shown that at least one-third of all cancer cases are potentially preventable. Some tips also apply as guidance to simply enjoying a healthier life:

  1. Stop smoking – tobacco is the single greatest avoidable risk for cancer worldwide, causing 22 percent of cancer deaths per year.
  2. Excessive alcohol use – the more you consume, the greater the risk.
  3. Radiation exposure – having radiation therapy to the chest before the age of 30 can increase your risk for breast cancer.
  4. Exposure to estrogen over long periods of time (hormone replacement therapy) without any breaks can increase the risk of breast cancer; if you are on HRT, ask your doctor how long he expects you to be on it.
  5. Consume a low-fat diet rich in fruits and veggies; restrict red meat and other animal fats, including dairy fat in cheese, milk and ice cream.
  6. Exercise. The American Cancer Society recommends engaging in 45 to 60 minutes of physical exercise five or more days per week.
  7. Being overweight is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, especially for women after menopause; make a lifestyle change to eat healthier and to watch your cholesterol levels.
  8. Avoid high-risk sexual behaviors such as multiple sex partners and sex partners with a history of STDs or intravenous drug use.
  9. Anything you can do to reduce stress (meditation, yoga, visualization exercises and prayer) can be valuable additions to your daily or weekly routing. Some research suggests that these practices can strengthen the immune system.
  10. Finally, use common sense: use sunscreen, avoid tanning beds, wear a helmet while biking, skateboarding, snow-skiing, motorcycling or horseback riding; fasten your seatbelt in your vehicle, do not drive while sleep-impaired; do not use your cell phone, apply makeup or eat when you are driving. If you own firearms, get proper training and store them safely.

Fem Stat #22 In 2015, it’s estimated that just under 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers.

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