Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What You Need to Remember to Do at Any Age

As most of you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is a time to educate yourself on how to stay healthy and prevent breast cancer.

As we age, there is increased risk for breast cancer. For example, women in their 60’s are diagnosed with breast cancer at a rate of 1 in 29 compared to only 1 in 233 women in their 30’s.

Being female is the largest risk factor when it comes to breast cancer. The next one is age. With these two factors in mind, there are a variety of things we can do throughout our lifetime at different ages to help prevent breast cancer.

In your 20s:

  • don’t smoke (don’t use any tobacco products) or quit smoking and using tobacco
  • drink in moderation – for women this is 1 drink per day, for men 2 drinks per day
  • stay within a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) – lose weight if necessary
  • eat your fruits and vegetables
  • exercise regularly
  • sleep at least 7 hours a night
  • get your annual physical and your yearly pap smear/visit with OB/GYN
  • do self breast exams, but more importantly be sure to take notice of any changes in your breasts
  • know if you have a family history of breast cancer or other cancers. But note, many women that get breast cancer do not have a family history of it.
  • if you have children, breast feed for better breast health. This is known to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer.
In your 30s:
  • do all of the things stated above in your twenties
  • lose weight if necessary. Being heavy (even just 10-20 pounds overweight) increases the risk of breast cancer by about 40%.
  • do not over consume soy products due to the increased production of estrogen as a bi-product. Estrogen may increase your risk of getting breast cancer. Hence why as we age there is increased risk, because we are naturally more exposed to estrogen, which is naturally occurring in our bodies over the years.
In your 40s:
  • do everything stated above in your 20s and 30s
  • At 40 get a mammogram and then another one every year after that
  • Ask about digital mammograms, which are used for dense breast tissue found in younger women less than 50
In your 50s and beyond:
  • do everything stated above in your 20s, 30s and 40s
  • get regular yearly mammograms
Paying attention to your general health will help you prevent breast cancer. Paying attention and seeing your doctor regularly will increase the potential of catching it early.
Fortunately, early detection of breast cancer makes the disease much more treatable.  So take charge of your breast health today and share this with other women in your life.
Photo credit: Christiana Care
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