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Does Breast Cancer Awareness Month Actually Make A Difference?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but does that change anything? Does seeing your favorite athlete wear a pink jersey change the rates of early diagnosis? Does a pink ribbon make you aware of the fact that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime or that minority women tend to be diagnosed at a younger age compared to white women? 

Has the overload of pink content this month caused a change in your health? Have you been doing regular self-breast exams, or attend your annual well-check, or scheduled a mammogram? If it hasn’t, I hope that this post helps you to. A large amount of women who receive a breast cancer diagnosis think “this would never happen to me,” until they hear the words “you have breast cancer.” The first step of awareness is knowledge. 

Risk factors are factors that make one more likely to be diagnosed with a condition. Mayo Clinic (2019), states that risk factors of breast cancer include, but are not limited to:

  • Being female

  • Increasing age

  • Personal and/or family history of breast conditions and/or breast cancer

  • Inherited genes that increase risk of cancer, such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations

  • Radiation exposure

  • Obesity

  • Beginning your period before age 12

  • Beginning menopause at an older age

  • Having your first child at after the age of 30

  • Having never been pregnant

  • Postmenopausal hormone therapy

  • Drinking alcohol

Awareness may begin with knowledge, but in order to make a difference action must take place.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Action Items:

  • Regular Self-Breast Exams: Become familiar with your breasts completing a regular self-breast exam in the shower. When you are familiar with your breasts, you will notice slight changes that may help in early diagnosis of an abnormality. Some signs and symptoms of changes in your breast may be: a lump, change in size or shape of breast, changes in the appearance or texture of the skin or nipple of the breast, a newly inverted nipple. If you notice any changes, be sure to contact your doctor. 

  • Attend Your Annual Well-Exams: Annual well visits with your primary care physician are vital to ensure healthy physical and mental states. These well-exam appointments are beneficial in early detection of cancer and other conditions that can be risk factors to breast cancer.

  • Get to Know Your Family History: While some cancer diagnosis can be better understood through genetics, not all are. Knowing your family medical history related to cancer and other health conditions can help physicians better understand your health patterns.

  • Exercise on a Regular Basis: Exercising about 30 minutes a day, several days a week, has been the standard recommended by many health agencies. Regular exercise improves overall health. If you are just beginning exercise or looking to change your exercise routine, be sure to consult with your physician. 

  • Reduce or Eliminate Alcohol Consumption: Limiting alcohol consumption has been proven as a prevention measure against breast cancer.

  • Healthy and Well-Balanced Nutrition: As with many health conditions, nutrition plays a large role in prevention and recovery. Fueling your body with healthy nutrients is a prevention measure that may contribute to reducing some risks associated with breast cancer.

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: By exercising on a regular basis, limiting alcohol consumption, and focusing on healthy nutrition, one may be able to maintain a healthy weight. As mentioned previously, if you are considering making any lifestyle changes, be sure to consult with a physician.

  • Normalize The Discussion of Health and Cancer: Begin the conversation with your friends and family about physical and mental conditions. Share content on social media that promotes the action items mentioned above. For so long, talking about physical and mental  health conditions has been hush-hushed topics. Let’s normalize talking about health conditions so that others know that they are not alone in whatever they may be going through.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month can make a difference if we spread the right information and if the awareness takes the next step towards action. Are you ready to make a difference? Are you ready to take action?

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