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Breast Cancer Awareness Month - October

Posted Oct 14 2011 5:09am

Getting a mammogram done was not the most exciting experience in my life.  But neither could I avoid it, since my paternal grandmother had breast cancer and had to have her breasts removed. So, by default, this puts me at risk for the disease. So far so good, but it is my responsibility to ensure that I get regular checks and do everything I can in terms of lifestyle changes to reduce my risk for breast cancer.

You can too. Pink ribbons and what not notwithstanding.

Statistics about breast cancer are scary. Did you know that in Britain, breast cancer is the most common form of the disease? The country also has the highest  death rate for the disease in the world.  

According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight US women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. Luckily, there are many natural ways to potentially lower your breast cancer risk.

Closer home, according to Breast Cancer India , breast cancer is the most common cancer in all urban areas in India and accounts for 28% to 35% of all cancers in women in cities. The the average age for developing breast cancer has shifted from 50 - 70 years to 30 - 50 years. NOT good. 

The truth is, there is a lot of  research going on to understand breast cancer better and how it is caused. But for our part, here is what we can do to prevent breast cancer and reduce our chances of developing it.

Play detective

Be aware of your breasts. You can detect a breast tumor on your own, so watch out for any changes to your breasts.   You don’t have to undergo a breast examination every month, as was believed earlier. No point getting more stressed than you already are. Instead, just be conscious about your breasts and be alert to abnormal changes. Here is a guide on how to examine your breasts

Nurse your baby

That’s breastfeeding. According to research, breast-feeding is linked to a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Breast cancer is related to the hormone estrogen and an increased exposure to this can increase risk for the disease. Breast-feeding lowers our estrogen levels and also causes changes in the breast and protects it from carcinogens.  

Rush to your doc if you find a lump 

What with all that you have on your busy schedule, making that appointment with the doc always takes a backseat. Forever. If you do find something odd about your breasts, please do go see the doc right away. It could be something harmless. Even if your doctor diagnoses a problem, you can feel relieved about having it checked early and getting treatment.

Check to see if it runs in the family 

It is believed that one of the causes for breast cancer is genetic, that someone in the family with breast cancer could put you at risk for it. Like my grandmother and me. Some people could just be carriers of the gene for breast cancer. While it does not mean you can develop breast cancer because your mother had it, if you are concerned about it in any way, see your doc for tests. 

Go easy on alcohol

There’s a definite link between alcohol and breast cancer, because alcohol increases estrogen levels.  The jury is still out on how much alcohol is safe. Still, why not cut down and reduce your risk since consistently consuming alcohol can ruin your overall health in the long run?

Keep track of your weight

Since obesity can increase your risk for breast cancer, make sure you maintain a healthy weight. 

Get a regular exercise regimen

It is that estrogen factor again. Less exercise = more estrogen = higher risk of breast cancer. Now you do the math. Know that just half an hour of exercise thrice a week can make all the difference. That’s not so hard. it will also help you reach your weight goals.

Cut down on fat 

A high fat diet spells disaster for your overall health.  Stick to 70 grams or less fat per day. 

Get stress relief

Besides increasing your likelihood of developing breast cancer, stress is know to cause all kinds of health issues. Managing your stress levels can also regularize your sleep and eating patterns.

Over 50 years old? Get regular breast screening.  Age is a major risk factor in breast cancer. 

Finally, breast cancer prevention starts with healthy lifestyle habits.  

Other interesting articles on preventing breast cancer

Breast Cancer 101 :

Prevent breast cancer

Breast cancer prevention: How to reduce your risk

And in case you didn’t know, men can get it too!

Stay healthy


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