National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was founded in 1985 by AstraZeneca, the drug company which manufactures the breast cancer drugs Arimidex and Tamoxifen. The aim of the NBCAM from the start has been to promote mammography as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer.
Today the NBCAM is a non-profit organization comprised of several national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working in partnership to build breast cancer awareness, share information and provide access to screening services.
According to their Web site the NBCAM is "dedicated to educating and empowering women to take charge of their own breast health by practicing regular self-breast exams to identify any changes, scheduling regular visits and annual mammograms with their healthcare provider, adhering to the prescribed treatment, and knowing the facts about recurrence."
Breast cancer will probably touch the lives of every one of us. According to Breast Cancer.org about 1 out of every 7 women will get breast cancer over a 90-year life span. Which means that if you are not personally affected by breast cancer a friend or relative most likely will be. My dear mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. It was detected early and with treatment her breast cancer was cured and she is alive and well today.
According to the National Breast Cancer Coalition, 110 women in the U.S. die every day from breast cancer. There are certain risk factors that contribute to a womens chance of developing breast cancer, some of them, such as genetics, are beyond our control but making changes in our external environment may help us reduce the risk.
Some of the things we can do to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer are:
- Don't smoke. Research shows that smoking is associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer. And if you get breast cancer it can increase complications from cancer treatments.
- Get more exercise. Again, research shows that getting 5 hours of exercise a week may lower the risk of breast cancer by lowering estrogen levels in the body.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Overweight women have an increased risk of developing breast cancer after menopause. Extra fat cells make extra estrogen that might stimulate breast cell growth.
- Reduce your exposure to estrogen. (Estrogen kind of sounds like the bad guy doesn't it?) Avoid hormone replacement therapy if possible. Studies have shown a link between long time hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer.
- Limit alcohol use. Significant alcohol use is unhealthy for your liver which helps regulate estrogen levels in your system. If you can't cut out alcohol completely reduce it to 5 drinks per week.
- Avoid trans fats, red meats and charred or smoked foods. Studies show that eating a diet high in red/or processed meats is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer.
- Have children earlier in life, if possible. Having no children or having your first child in your mid-thirties increases the risk.
- Consider breastfeeding instead of formula. Researchers believe that the months without a period during pregnancy and breastfeeding may reduce a woman's risk of breast cancer.
- Eat a balanced diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, at least 5 cups a day. And eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Relax. Anything you can do to reduce your stress, and to enhance your comfort, joy, and satisfaction will have a major effect on your quality of life. Doing these things may strengthen the immune system which will help your body fight disease.
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