October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you didn’t know that already, then you must not be paying attention to your surroundings – even the players in the NFL wear pink during October in honor of this!
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
I suspect that many of you have been affected by breast cancer in some way, whether you have been diagnosed with it yourself or you know someone who has. It is something close to my heart as I have been personally touched by it – my grandmother was diagnosed a few years ago. I am extremely happy to report that she is fine now though. It was detected early and removed; she didn’t even need chemo. She is not the only one close to me though. My old co-worker and dear friend Wendy is a survivor as well.
Here we are after completing our first Warrior Dash last year
The list goes on, but luckily everyone I know has been a survivor. The statistics for breast cancer are alarming though.
- It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women (though do not be fooled – it does affect men as well)
- It is the 2nd leading cause of death for women
(Graphic From http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org)
How do you know if you are at risk for breast cancer? Well there are certain risk factors that you can’t change because they are genetic:
- Gender – Women are more likely than men to get breast cancer.
- Age – The majority of women will be diagnosed after age 55.
- Race – Breast cancer is more prevalent in Caucasian women.
- Family History
- Menstrual and Reproductive History: Early menstruation (before age 12), late menopause (after 55), having your first child at an older age, or never having given birth can also increase your risk for breast cancer.
But more importantly, and what I want to emphasize, are the risk factors that you can avoid. Yes, there are things you can do to lower your likelihood of developing breast cancer.
- Diet – A poor diet, high in saturated and trans fats, can be a contributor to breast cancer development.
What can you do for prevention? Increase your consumption of colorful fruits and vegetables. Aim for a combined 5-9 servings per day at least.
- Physical Activity – Or lack thereof. A sedentary lifestyle increases your risk of breast cancer, among other ailments……
What can you do for prevention? Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity daily. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park in the furthest parking spot from the door. Get up and walk to your coworkers desk instead of sending them an email. If your destination is less than a mile, walk, don’t drive. And if it’s less than 5 miles? Bike.
- Alcohol – Drink moderately if you choose to drink alcohol. Increased consumption puts you at a higher risk. So stick to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men, maximum.
- Smoking – Just don’t do it. It is a risk factor for many types of cancer, including breast cancer.
So women, and men, spread the word about breast cancer awareness month. Pay attention to those preventable risk factors. And if you think something is wrong, please go to the doctor.
Christina Molinski, MS, RD
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