October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. This means that women must be proactive about their health. Make sure to get proper screenings, educate yourself about risk factors and symptoms, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
While some people who develop breast cancer exhibit no symptoms, others may show symptoms. A new lump in your breast or underarm can be a symptom of breast cancer. Other symptoms include pain in any part of the breast or a change in the size or shape of the breast. Nipple discharge, excluding breast milk, is also a symptom. If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as you can.
Avoid Known Risk Factors
There are certain risk factors that can increase a person’s chance of developing breast cancer. It is important to understand these risk factors so you can understand your personal risk of developing breast cancer. Risk factors include:
- Age: two thirds of women who receive a breast cancer diagnosis are age 55 or older.
- Gender: while men can develop breast cancer, breast cancer occurs almost 100 times more frequently in women than in men.
- Obesity: this is a risk factor for both women and men.
- Family history: if an immediate family member has been diagnosed with either ovarian or breast cancer, you have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Genetics: mutations in certain genes also increase a person’s risk of developing breast cancer.
- A prior diagnosis of breast cancer increases your risk of a second diagnosis.
- Dense breast tissue: dense breast tissue can increase your risk of breast cancer and make lumps more difficult to detect.
- Taking hormone replacement therapy can increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
The good news about breast cancer risk is that living a healthy lifestyle can decrease your risk of developing breast cancer. Physical activity can decrease your risk of breast cancer so make sure to work exercise into your day. Eating a healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and high in fruits and vegetables can also decrease your risk of developing breast cancer. Consuming alcohol is known to increase your risk of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis. Limiting your alcohol consumption can accordingly decrease your risk of developing breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Myths
There are many myths surrounding breast cancer. Some of these myths include the following1:
- Breast cancer is not caused by wearing deodorant, using cell phones, or wearing an underwire bra.
- Man can get breast cancer. Approximately 2,190 men receive a breast cancer diagnosis annually and 410 of these men will die.
- Finding a lump in your breast does not necessarily mean you have cancer. In fact, only a small percentage of lumps turn out to be cancer. This being said however, never ignore a lump in your breast and get any lumps check by your physician.
Click here to read more about breast cancer myths.
Resources to learn more about breast cancer: