October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a yearly campaign to increase awareness of breast cancer and breast health. During the month of October, many wear the ‘Pink Ribbon’ in acknowledgment and support of the cause and choose to pay honor to the loss of a loved one to this deadly disease.
There is a lot of talk about breast cancer awareness during October, and for a good reason: It’s a significant health threat, especially for women. Almost one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Black women and white women get breast cancer at about the same rate, but the (death rates) are about 40% higher among Black women than White women. About 30% of all newly diagnosed Black breast cancer patients are younger than 50 years old, compared to only 20% of White women.
As women age, the risk for breast cancer rises. Early detection is the key to saving lives. Screening recommendations differ based on your risk factors such as smoking, family cancer history, age, weight, and overall health. Having and maintaining a healthy breast is a part of breast health.
Breast health begins with awareness (a sense of what’s normal for your breasts). Breasts play many roles in women’s lives. They give women their unique shapes; they provide sexual pleasure and deliver life-sustaining milk to their babies. Understanding how to take care of our breasts and what constitutes good breast health is not only about mammograms.
No matter what your age, conducting regular breast self-exams can reduce the risk of Breast Cancer. Women should try to limit or eliminate your alcohol intake, if you smoke, quit, and stay at a healthy weight. It’s also essential to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week and eat plenty of fruits and veggies. Avoid refined and processed foods and refined sugars. Avoid radiation exposure, and get enough sleep.
Promoting good health overall, including breast health during a pandemic, has been met with challenges. Treatment is now more difficult due to added precautionary protocols at healthcare facilities. Mammography and other screenings have been temporarily postponed, impacting early detection. Social distancing can cause isolation, loneliness, and confusion, especially for patients and survivors who are immunosuppressed. Challenges to treatment are now even steeper, like childcare, transportation, and medical bills.
When it comes to breast self-awareness, The American Cancer Society says that all women should know how their breasts normally look and feel. You’ll notice physical changes as you age. During menopause or leading up to it, the glands that make milk shrink, and replaced with new fat tissue, so your bra-cup size may go up. Your breasts may begin to sag more, and you may discover how your breasts differ in sensitivity and texture at different times on your menstrual cycle.
Breast health is more than just getting a mammogram. Breast health begins with breast awareness and a sense of what’s normal for your breasts. It is vital to have healthy habits at any age. it’s never too early to start thinking about having healthy breasts for life or too late to make changes for the better.
Remember to get enough sleep, stop smoking, exercise, and sustaining a healthy body weight may help reduce your breast cancer risk. Breast cancer screening is vital for Breast Health, and timely screenings can catch breast cancer early when treated successfully. If you have any questions about breast cancer or cancer in general, visit your health care provider.
Shera Strange is a Fitness Professional & Writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @StrangeFitnessInc or online at www.strangefitness.com.