by Mary Wright of North End Waterfront Health
Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, now is a good time to review breast health information. Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women. About one in eight women will develop breast cancer during their life.
There are several risk factors for developing breast cancer. The greatest risk for developing breast cancer is being a woman and getting older. Two out of three women who develop breast cancer are over the age of 55. Your risk increases if you have a personal history of breast cancer or if you have a family history of breast cancer (a close relative such as a mother, sister, aunt, grandmother or daughter). However, about 85% of women have no risk factors at all.
Some of the other risk factors are having your first baby after age 30, starting menstruation before age 12, or reaching menopause after age 50. There are several other risk factors that are related to lifestyle. They include being obese, drinking too much alcohol and not getting enough physical activity.
There are a few breast cancer prevention tips, such as getting regular physical activity, eating a low-fat, high-fiber diet, limiting alcohol intake, and not smoking. Good breast self care has three parts: a regular breast self exam, a clinical breast exam, and regular mammograms beginning at age 40.
There are several myths about breast cancer. Some people believe that breast cancer only happens in older women. The truth is that breast cancer can happen at any age
Another myth is that if there is breast cancer in your family you will get it, but the truth is that 75% of women with breast cancer have no family history.
The good news is that even if you do get breast cancer, it is not a death sentence. Some kinds of breast cancer have a 98% survival rate. Early detection is very important.
Mary Wright is the health educator at North End Waterfront Health.