Thumbnail Breast Cancer Bam

Breast Cancer Awareness Month 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer and to help to prevent this terrible disease. 

Breast Cancer Prevention 


Active women are far less likely to be diagnosed with any form of cancer. 30 minutes of walking each day is great but find something that you enjoy so you’ll keep doing it. Doctors recommend exercising for at least 30 minutes five times a week.


A Harvard study showed eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.  Try to avoid grilled meat, because open-flame grilling can increase your cancer risk.


We all should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night, but research has shown women who average less than six hours of sleep have an increased risk of up to 30% of being diagnosed with breast cancer during their lives. Those who work night shifts or haphazard shifts also seem to have an increased level of risk.


Being overweight seems to have a direct relationship to an increased risk of breast cancer.


Women who smoke are nearly four times more likely to develop breast cancer than non-smokers.


Many experts suggest women drink no more than one unit of alcohol per day, such as a glass of wine or a single beer. If you are worried about your cancer risk or have a family history of cancer, you should stay away from alcohol altogether. 


Those who breastfeed their babies are 10% less likely to die from breast cancer compared to those who do not.


Check yourself on a regular basis and get screened once a year, or more if your doctor recommends it


Most of us experience radiation exposure when receiving an x-ray or mammogram, or other situations.  Small amounts are unlikely to cause issues, but long-term exposure will increase your breast cancer risk.  If you are worried about exposure, seek a second opinion before getting an x-ray. 

What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Breast Cancer? The most common symptoms of breast cancer include: 

  • Feeling a lump in the breast area, with or without pain 
  • Change in breast shape or size 
  • Dimple or puckering in breast 
  • A nipple turning inward into the breast 
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, especially if it is bloody 
  • Scaly, red, darkened or swollen skin in the breast area 
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple 
  • Dimple, pitted appearance or feel (similar to an orange peel) in the breast area 
  • Swollen or enlarged lymph nodes around the breast area, including the collarbone and armpits 

Although these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, you should check with a doctor — preferably a breast health specialist — so they can make a diagnosis. 

Sources: National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society


What Increases Your Risk Of Breast Cancer? 

Factors that can elevate breast cancer risk include: 

  • A personal or family history of breast cancer, including DCIS and LCIS 
  • Inherited genetic predispositions 
  • Elevated lifetime estrogen exposure  
    • Early onset of menstruation (before age 11) 
    • Late onset of menopause (after the age of 55) 
    • Older age of first childbirth (after age of 30) or never having given birth 
    • Taking estrogen and progesterone after menopause 
  • Having dense breast tissue 
  • Obesity 
  • Prior radiation therapy to the chest area 
  • Consuming alcohol, especially in excess of two drinks a day 
  • Age: Two-third of invasive breast cancers are found in women 55 or older. 
  • Race and ethnicity: Caucasian women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, but African-American women are more likely to die from this disease. African-American women are also more likely to be diagnosed at a younger age (under 45). 

Research has also shown that a healthy lifestyle and maintenance of a normal weight, including a well-balanced diet and regular exercise, may reduce breast cancer risk. 

Breast cancer risk may also be reduced by prophylactic methods, such as taking estrogen blockers, and undergoing a mastectomy and/or oophorectomy (surgical removal of the breasts and ovaries, respectively.) These methods are typically for women with a greatly elevated risk of developing breast cancer. 

Sources: National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society