by Melissa McConnell, M.Ac., L.Ac.

October is breast cancer awareness month, which highlights the importance of increasing everyone’s awareness of the disease.  It seems, unfortunately, that everyone is touched by this disease in some way; either someone is personally striving to beat cancer or you know someone (family, friend etc.) who has been diagnosed with this disease.  I personally lost my grandmother to breast cancer when I was 21 years old and I knew a co-worker who was diagnosed and beat breast cancer 15 years ago.

During my research for this article, I came across some interesting information that I wish to share with you so you will also be well informed in regards to this disease.

Here are some interesting facts…

  • 1 in 8 females will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime
  • Breast lumps aren’t the only possible sign of breast cancer and most breast lumps are not cancer
  • Breast cancer stages run from 0 to 4 and researchers have now identified 2 genes responsible for some instances of familial breast cancer – BRCA1 and BRCA2 about
  • 1 female in 200 carries the genes
  • 2/3 of females with breast cancer are over the age of 50 and most of the rest are between the ages of 39 to 49
  • As in all forms of cancer, the abnormal tissue that makes up breast cancer is the patient’s own cells that have multiplied uncontrollably.  Breast cancer develops either in the milk ducts (ductal carcinoma) or glands (lobular carcinoma)
  •  Studies suggest that a high-fat diet increases the risk because fat triggers estrogen production that can fuel tumor growth
  • Breast cancer responds best to treatment when it’s detected early – localized tumors can usually be treated successfully before the cancer spreads
  • Mammography is the most effective way to detect breast cancer and a clinical (physical) breast exam by your physician compliments the mammography screening

While the majority of people are aware of breast cancer, many forget or put off some simple steps in detecting this disease in its early stage.

Here are some simple steps everyone (1% of the male population is diagnosed with breast cancer) can incorporate into their life to possibly detect breast cancer in its earliest stage…

  • Monthly self-breast exam (starting in the 20’s)
  • Yearly physical and clinical breast exam by your physician
  • Know your family history – a female whose mother, sister or daughter has had breast cancer is 2 to 3 times more likely to develop the disease, especially if more than one 1st degree relative has been affected
  • Call your doctor if you notice 1 or both breasts develop new pain or tenderness, a noticeable flattening or indentation along the breast tissue, if there is a change in breast size, contour, color, texture or temperature, a change in the nipple – secretions from the nipple, swelling in the armpit/swollen lymph glands.

Here are some simple ways to improve your health and create a healthier you:

  • Consume a low-fat, nutritious diet (30grams or less of fat per day) with plenty of fruits and orange & green vegetables
  • Exercise boosts the immune system and helps to keep your weight in check
  • Minimal or no alcohol consumption – studies have found that 1 alcoholic drink a day can slightly increase the risk of breast cancer and having more than one drink a day significantly increases the risk factor
  • Decrease stress and calm your mind through meditation, yoga, deep breathing, acupuncture, massage or tai chi
  • Drink plenty of water 
  • And get enough sleep
  • And most importantly, enjoy life!  Smile a lot and laugh even more – surround yourself with happy, positive people and set out with a purpose – a purpose to be present with each and every moment and live life to the fullest! 

Cheers everyone!!

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