By Tracey Hall
October is breast cancer awareness month and this insidious disease has affected everyone in one form or another. In my small world that includes my mother, my best friend and myself, two out of three of us have been attacked by breast cancer. One has survived, one has passed.
According to the CDC, other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Getting mammograms regularly can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that if you are 50 to 74 years old, be sure to have a screening mammogram every two years. If you are 40 to 49 years old, talk to your doctor about when to start and how often to get a screening mammogram.
Fast Facts About Breast Cancer
Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 women get breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from the disease.
Men also get breast cancer, but it is not very common. Less than 1% of breast cancers occur in men.
Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women. About 10% of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age.
There are so many wonderful initiatives in October to drive awareness. Whether you join a walk or wear a pink ribbon, we must continue to study and ultimately find a cure for breast cancer. Most importantly, know your own body and never hesitate to get to question abnormalities.
The CDC attributes many factors over the course of a lifetime that can influence your breast cancer risk.You can’t change some factors, such as getting older or your family history, but you can help lower your risk of breast cancer by taking care of your health in the following ways:
Keep a healthy weight.
Exercise regularly (at least four hours a week).
Research shows that lack of nighttime sleep can be a risk factor.
Don’t drink alcohol, or limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one per day.
Avoid exposure to chemicals that can cause cancer (carcinogens) and chemicals that interfere with the normal function of the body.
Limit exposure to radiation from medical imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, and PET scans if not medically necessary.
If you are taking, or have been told to take, hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives (birth control pills), ask your doctor about the risks and find out if it is right for you.
Breastfeed any children you may have, if possible.
Staying healthy throughout your life will lower your risk of developing cancer, and improve your chances of surviving cancer if it occurs.