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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Things You Should Know About Breast Cancer

I've been doing a lot of research on breast cancer since my sister was diagnosed a few months ago. The Mr and I are gearing up to do the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure in November (more on that later). I'd like to share some of the information I have found, and hope that it will help someone out there. Knowledge is power my friends!

A few quick facts about breast cancer risk:

  • All women are at risk for breast cancer
  • Risk increases with age
  • About 1 out of every 7 women will get breast cancer over a 90-year life span
  • There are ways to reduce your risk!

Some risks cannot be controlled:
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Family history or personal history of breast cancer
  • Race
  • Radiation therapy to the chest
  • Breast cellular changes
  • Exposure to estrogen
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • DES exposure
OK, so you can't change your gender (well, maybe you can, but I'm not sure what that does to your breast cancer risks, and I suspect other risks are increased, so I think we'll leave that alone). And you can't get younger (risk increases as we get older) or be a different race.

But many risk factors can be controlled!
  • Weight - Being overweight is associated with increased risk of breast cancer
  • Diet - generally a low fat diet is recommended (see these tips)
  • Exercise - Evidence is growing that exercise can reduce breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society recommends engaging in 45-60 minutes of physical exercise 5 or more days a week
  • Alcohol consumption - Studies have shown that breast cancer risk increases with the amount of alcohol a woman drinks.
  • Smoking - Smoking is associated with a small increase in breast cancer risk

Know your risks. Perform a self-exam monthly. Have an annual mammogram if you are over 40 or are at high risk. Early detection can save your life. Early detection can save your life!

For more information, see my source,

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