As many of you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Organizations and individuals throughout America have donned pink to support research and spread knowledge about the disease, and we are all encouraged to donate to non-profits and hospitals that are making differences in the lives of thousands of women.
The sad truth is that one in every eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Breast cancer incidence rates have decreased since 2000, but there's still a chance that you'll face the disease at some point, especially if you are genetically predisposed to develop breast cancer. Besides skin cancer, it's still the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
To make women more aware of their risks for breast cancer, scientists and hospitals have released many tips on lowering your odds of developing the disease. Here are the top five things you can do to stay safe and help keep breast cancer at bay.
1. Get checked every year. The number one thing you can do is stay on top of your self-examinations and doctor appointments. Don't brush off your annual mammogram as an unnecessary nuisance; it could help you stop breast cancer in its tracks before it becomes life-threatening. Also, learn the early symptoms of breast cancer so you know when to have a medical expert check things out.
2. Ask your doctor about how birth control affects your risk. Some research has suggested that older forms of hormonal birth control were linked to higher risks of breast cancer. Although most newer forms of contraceptives are considered relatively safe, it's still a good idea to speak with your doctor about your situation.
3. Avoid smoking at all costs and minimize your consumption of alcohol. This is a huge step you can take to decrease your risk. Firsthand and secondhand smoke is incredibly dangerous, and even one drink per day can increase your risk of developing breast cancer. Have a drink every now and then, but don't become someone who sips beer or wine every day after work.
4. Watch your diet. According to the American Cancer Society, eating a diet that is high in veggies, fruits and whole grains and low in red meat, processed meat and sweets is an important way to lower your risk. Not only will this diet help you maintain a healthy weight, but it will also reduce inflammation and decrease your risk of other serious problems like heart disease and diabetes.
5. Exercise multiple days each week. There's a solid link drawn between a lack of exercise and a high risk of breast cancer. By working out for four to seven hours each week, you can lower your risk and eliminate extra fat cells that increase your odds of developing breast cancer. Even if you do develop breast cancer, exercising for three to five hours per week can improve your chances of surviving.
To learn more about Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as well as the warning signs of the disease, visit www.nationalbreastcancer.org.