To get the message out about Breast Cancer, I'll be providing a lot of info on promos that cosmetic/beauty companies are running this month along with some health tips and resources. Don't worry--I'll have plenty of beauty news for you as well throughout October. In the meantime, sit back, get reading, and be sure to leave any comments you might have!
To start off this month, here are some facts about breast cancer (from the National Breast Cancer website--visit their site for TONS of info!):
Q: What is breast cancer?
A: Breast cancer is cancer that forms in tissues of the breast, usually the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk). It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare.
Q: How many new cases of breast cancer were estimated in the United States in 2009?
A: According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among women in the United States last year. Approximately 1,910 new cases are expected in men. The ACS also reports that an estimated 40,610 breast cancer deaths are expected in 2009 (40,170 women, 440 men).
Q: How common is breast cancer in the United States?
A: Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, aside from skin cancer.
Q: What are the breast cancer "risk factors"?
A: To predict when and in whom breast cancer will occur, scientists must often think like detectives, looking for clues to signal which women may be more likely than others to develop the disease. These clues are called "risk factors."
To identify risk factors, scientists continually examine various trends and patterns among women worldwide who are diagnosed with the disease. Age, individual and family medical history, reproductive history, genetic alterations, race, economic status, environmental exposures to pollutants, and lifestyle habits are all examples of the factors that can be evaluated. This information tells a scientific story that helps experts predict with some certainty a woman's odds for developing breast cancer. It's important to note, however, that this is not an exact science and that such predictions are not definite.
Having one or two of these risk factors doesn't mean a woman will develop breast cancer. But knowing her personal risk factor profile and understanding what it means will help her and her doctor plan a course of action that may reduce her chances of developing the disease or, at least, to detect it in its earliest, most treatable stages.
The most common risk factors:
* Sex. The highest risk factor for breast cancer is being female; the disease is about 100 times more common among women.
* Age. The risk of breast cancer increases as a woman grows older. The risk is especially high for women age 60 and older. Breast cancer is uncommon in women younger than age 35, although it does occur. There is some evidence to suggest young African American women are at greater risk for breast cancer than young Caucasian women.
* Personal History. Women who have had breast cancer and women with a history of breast disease (not cancer, but a condition that may predispose them to cancer) may develop it again.
* Family History. The risk of developing breast cancer increases for a woman whose mother, sister, daughter, or two or more close relatives have had the disease. It is important to know how old they were at the time they were diagnosed.
* The Breast Cancer Genes. Some individuals, both women and men, may be born with an "alteration" (or change) in one of two genes that are important for regulating breast cell growth. Individuals who inherit an alteration in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene are at an "inherited" higher risk for breast cancer. They also may pass this alteration on to their children. It is very rare. Scientists estimate that only about 5-10 percent of all breast cancers are due to genetic changes. One out of two women with these changes are likely to develop breast cancer. Women with a family history of breast cancer are encouraged to speak to a genetics counselor to determine the pros and cons of genetic testing.
The next 5 risk factors all involve estrogen, a hormone that naturally occurs in men and women. However, at the time menstruation begins, women start to produce larger amounts of estrogen and will continue to do so until they reach menopause. Estrogen appears to play a key role in breast cancer. Although estrogen doesn't actually cause breast cancer, it may stimulate the growth of cancer cells. Estrogen-related risk factors are:
* Having an early menarche (first period or menstrual bleeding). Women who begin menstruating before age 12 are at increased risk of developing breast cancer. The more menstrual cycles a woman has over her lifetime, the more likely she is to get the disease.
* Having a first pregnancy after age 25 or 35. Although early pregnancies may help lower the chances of getting breast cancer, particularly before the age of 25, these same hormonal changes after age 35 may contribute to the incidence of breast cancer.
* Having no children. Women who experience continuous menstrual cycles until menopause are at a higher than average risk.
* Use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Based on the Women's Health Initiative Study (2002), women do appear to have an increased risk of breast cancer while they are on HRT and a short time thereafter, compared to those who have never used postmenopausal HRT. This is based on a study of 16,000 healthy postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 who were taking either estrogen plus progestin as HRT or a placebo (an inactive pill).
* Use of Oral Contraceptives (OCs) and Breast Cancer. Current or former use of OCs among women ages 35 to 64 did not significantly increase the risk of breast cancer. The findings were similar for Caucasian and African-American women. Data also show that former OC use does not increase the risk of breast cancer later in life.
Other risk factors - and lifestyle choices to avoid them
Common to all women are daily lifestyle decisions that may affect breast cancer risk. These day-to-day choices involve factors such as poor diet, insufficient physical activity, alcohol use, and smoking. Besides possibly reducing breast cancer risk, lifestyle improvements represent smart steps for a healthier life, since they can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and many other chronic, life-threatening conditions.
* Decrease your daily fat intake - especially saturated or hydrogenated fats. Eat leaner meats and limit red meat. Reducing your fat intake helps prevent other health problems such as heart disease and stroke and may reduce your chance of developing breast and colon cancers.
* Increase fiber in your diet. Fiber is found in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. This type of diet is beneficial for your heart and can help prevent other cancers such as colon cancer.
* Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition to their fiber content, fruits and vegetables have antioxidant properties and micronutrients that may help prevent some cancers.
* Limit alcohol. Evidence suggests that a small increase in risk exists for women who average two or more drinks per day (beer, wine, and distilled liquor).
* Stay active. The U.S. Surgeon General has recently reported that you can help prevent many health problems by engaging in a moderate amount of physical activity (such as taking a brisk, 30-minute walk) on most days of the week. Strive to maintain the body weight recommended by a health professional, since excess fat may stimulate estrogen production.
* Don't smoke. Although smoking doesn't cause breast cancer, it can increase the chance of blood clots, heart disease, and other cancers that may spread to the breast.