Women tend to put the health of their family before their own health — taking care of the children, ensuring the housework duties get completed or cooking a hearty meal for the entire family. This often puts their own health, wellbeing and prevention on the backburner.
With the month of October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month in full swing, we take the time to wear pink for those that survived, have fought or are fighting breast cancer. However, October also represents the time for women to take charge of their own health to seek prevention. Everyone can help in the fight to empower the women in their lives to seek prevention and education on breast cancer.
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death for women in the United States, with one in eight women developing breast cancer in her lifetime. However, by understanding prevention and early detection, women can reduce their risks of developing breast cancer.
There are several risk factors associated with breast cancer. The greatest risk factor of developing breast cancer is gender. Women are nearly 100 times more likely to develop breast cancer than men. However, men, you are not out of the clear. Men can also develop breast cancer, but men are not at as great of risk.
Age is another risk factor in breast cancer. Breast cancer is more common in females who are 55 and older. Women who have an immediate family member who has had breast cancer, have two times a greater chance of developing breast cancer. Keep in mind: you do not have to be at risk to develop breast cancer.
Although there are many risks of breast cancer, be proactive to lessen your own risks of developing breast cancer. Early detection is important in breast cancer, as it may help increase the chances of a successful treatment. Perform self-breast exams at least once per month, if not more frequently. Should you notice any abnormalities, inform your physician to seek further medical assistance. Screening mammograms should also be conducted on a regular basis. If you are unsure how often or when to begin getting mammograms, consult with your physician. Women should also maintain regular wellness checks or physical exams.
If you notice any lumps or changes in your breasts or discharge from your nipples, be sure to inform your doctor of any findings. To maintain your health, remember to avoid foods high in fat, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise on a daily basis, refrain from smoking and limit your alcohol intake.
Take the time to wear pink and empower the women in your life to seek prevention on breast cancer, not only this month, but throughout the entire year!
The writer is the chief medical officer at Wilson Health, Sidney.