October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and here on Long Island, this hits home hard. After losing her sister Virginia to cancer, Teresa Ward, owner of Teresa’s Family Cleaning, formed the charity, Cleaning Angels USA. This volunteer organization provides free cleaning services to Long Island women who are overwhelmed with the pain and stress of cancer treatment.
While there is no sure fire way to prevent breast cancer or any other cancer, you can reduce your risk, and help increase the odds that if cancer does occur, it is found at an early, more treatable stage.
Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer with these tips
Get a routine mammogram. Mammograms play a critical role in early detection – which means finding breast cancer at a curable stage. In fact, stages 0 and 1 have 98% cure rates. Studies show that, on average, mammograms decrease the death rates on breast cancer by about 30%.
Get your routine clinical breast exams by a health expert such as a doctor, nurse practitioner, nurse, or physician assistant. The area under both arms will also be checked.
Perform regular breast self-exams. Be aware of how your breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to your doctor right away.
Lose that excess weight. Being overweight or obese increases breast cancer risk, especially after menopause. This is because the major source of estrogen for postmenopausal women is found in mainly in fat tissue.
Know your family history. Women whose close relatives (parents, brothers, sisters, children) have had breast cancer (especially at an early age) are more likely to get breast cancer. If this is true for you, talk to your doctor about further testing.
Exercise regularly. Exercise is a considered a breast-healthy habit and you don’t even have to join a gym! Walking briskly for 75 to 150 minutes each week has been shown to lower risk. Consider ramping up your exercise routine even more to lower your breast cancer risk further.
Limit your alcohol intake. Women who consume 2 or more alcoholic drinks a day have about 1½ times the risk of breast cancer compared to women who don’t drink at all. The American Cancer Society’s recommends limiting alcohol to no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
Don’t smoke. Studies have suggested a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women. Not smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke not only lowers your risk for breast and other cancers, it is better for your overall health in general.
Don’t assume the breast cancer discriminates. Men are diagnosed with breast cancer at less than 1% the rate women are diagnosed with breast cancer and primarily affects men 60 years of age and over; however, it can occur much earlier in some men due to variables such as environmental and/or genetic factors.
Avoid environmental pollution and toxic chemicals. Current research also suggests a link between breast cancer and exposure to the chemicals found in our homes, workplaces, gasoline fumes and vehicle exhaust. An easy way to avoid these toxic chemicals in your home by creating a chemical free cleaning kit. Making your own non toxic cleaners is not only good for your health, it is better for the environment and easier on your wallet.