Chances are you know someone – a family member, colleague, or friend who has been affected by cancer. You’ll want to learn more about prevention especially if you have a history of cancer in your family. There are over two hundred different types of cancer and the most common one for women is breast cancer. The lifetime probability of a woman developing breast cancer is 1 in 9. The good news is that it is possible for women to protect themselves from breast cancer. When breast cancer is discovered and treated early, the chances for recovery are better.
Every woman should know their own breasts so that any changes are noticed soon and can be reported to a physician. Knowing your breasts includes having a mammogram every two years if you are between the ages of 50 and 69 and getting a clinical breast exam by a doctor or trained health professional at least every two years from the age of 40. Regardless of age, all women should do their own monthly breast self-examination a few days after her period. When doing breast self-examination, things to look for include: puckering of the skin, the appearance of what is sometimes called ‘orange peel skin’, any place in your breasts that feels lumpy or harder than the rest and bleeding from the nipples or crusting.
It is important to note that most breast problems are not breast cancer and most lumps are not cancerous. When a lump is not cancerous it is referred to as ‘benign’. A cancerous lump is called ‘malignant’.
While there are no cures yet, researchers have discovered that a healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent cancer. Since cancer is a disease that starts in our cells, everything we eat and are exposed to can affect them. Choose to be a non-smoker and avoid second-hand smoke. In regards to diet, choose a variety of lower fat, high fiber foods. Studies have shown that intake of total fat, saturated fat and meat are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Maintain a healthy body weight and limit alcohol consumption. Protect yourself from the sun. At home and at work, follow health and safety instructions when using hazardous materials. The link between an active lifestyle and breast cancer prevention is as yet unclear but general health is improved when regular exercise is an integral part of a person’s lifestyle.
Taking care of ourselves is an ongoing commitment that requires self-discipline and knowledge. It is well worth the effort and you’ll feel much better for it.