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Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer – Dr. Stephanie Shaw |DC

Posted 3 years ago on

October is Breast Cancer awareness Month.  So listen up ladies, because this affects all of us.  Here are some facts that every woman (and man) should know.  According to the breast cancer foundation, breast cancer will affect 1 in 9 women during their lifetime.  In 2013, breast cancer continued to be the most common cancer diagnosed in Canadian women over the age of 20.  It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Canadian women after lung cancer.  If some of you think you are too young to be concerned with breast cancer, think again.  The risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer does increase with age.  However, there are still 18% of all breast cancer cases that occur in women under the age of 50.  This age range also accounts for 10% of all breast cancer related deaths.  Breast cancer in younger women also tends to be more aggressive, often moving quickly to advanced stages.  This is why it is important for women of all ages to get screened for breast cancer and perform monthly self-breast exams.

So what are the causes of breast cancer?  First of all, it is important to understand that breast cancer is a complex disease with no single cause.  There are combinations of causes, which are not yet all known.  The main causes can be separated into two main groups: inherited and environmental.  Inherited causes are genetic and not factors that we can control.  However, environmental factors can be.  These include our lifestyle, such as our level of physical activity, use of hormone replacement therapy, exposure to chemicals that are known to change cell DNA, or even the environment we live and work in.

So how can you reduce your risk of breast cancer?  Here are a few tips that everyone should start practicing on a daily basis:

–       Decreasing stress factors

–       Having a healthier body weight

–       Eating a more balanced diet

–       Getting regular physical activity

–       Limiting alcohol consumption

–       Quitting smoking

–       Reducing exposure to toxic chemicals

–       Performing monthly self-breast exams

–       Scheduling clinical exams and mammograms based on your age and health history

What should you be looking for during your self-breast exams?

–       A breast lump (however, these can be benign lumps such as cysts or lymph nodes; if you do find a lump in your breast or your arm pit, check with your medical doctor)

–       Dimpling of the breast

–       Changes in breast size (That are not related to your menstrual cycle)

–       Changes in the nipple

–       Liquid leaking from the nipple

–       Changes in the skin (similar to an orange peel)

–       Redness or discoloration that does not go away

–       Any other unusual changes in your breast

Now you can all share the knowledge and help in the prevention of breast cancer in honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.