My name is Anna and I live in New York City. I am a registered nurse and passionate about health and wellness. I am the author of the blog: Be Healthy, Be Well, Be Inspired where I write about holistic health. I am a lifelong learner and when I am not working, I am taking e-courses and webinars, learning about photography, blogging, and exploring the city.

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This month you may have seen a lot of pink around the Internet and around your city.  The entire month of October is dedicated to breast cancer awareness month – how you can prevent breast cancer, signs and symptoms of breast cancer, how you can help, support groups, and fundraisers.  You name it. It’s out there. Three decades ago, being diagnosed with breast cancer was considered a stigma, hush – hush and something you don’t talk about.  Now, many people and organizations are out there fighting for the cause like Avon and Susan G. Komen Foundation to name a few.

Some breast cancer facts:

  • More than 240,000 women and 1,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010
  • More than 40,000 women and 400 men die each year from the disease
  • There are more than 2 million breast cancer survivors in the United States
  • One person is diagnosed approximately every 3 minutes, and one person dies of breast cancer approximately every 14 minutes
  • People over the age of 50 account for 76% of breast cancer cases; while only 5% of breast cancer diagnoses are in people under the age of 40 and 18% are in their 40’s
  • The majority of breast cancers found today are “hormone receptor positive” and excellent treatments exist.  Nearly 1 out of 5 breast cancers diagnosed will be HER2-positive breast cancer, a form that tends to grow and spread more aggressively than other breast cancer.

I personally do not have someone close to me diagnosed with breast cancer or a survivor.  I do have a friend whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy three years ago.  Fortunately, she is in remission now and saw her only daughter get married this past June.

I also took care of many patients who were diagnosed with breast cancer. Not only are these patients dealing with the physical part of their health but the emotional aspect of the disease as well.  Supporting someone emotionally during this difficult time is something I never learned in nursing school. I took care of my patients well, listened to them and allowed them to talk about their feelings and vent.  Something that I learned from my patients is their strength, courage, determination, and their will to live.

But, breast cancer is preventable.  Here are some recommendations to lowering your risk of developing breast cancer.

Reduce alcohol use – regular consumption of alcohol on a daily basis is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer

Smoking – Tobacco smoke is a known carcinogen.  Exposure to smoking and second hand smoke should be avoided especially during childhood, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.

Family history of breast cancer – risk is increased if any member of your family has been diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50.  Risk doubles if your mother, sister, or daughter has been diagnosed at any age.

Reproductive history – Risk is increased if onset of menstruation is before 12 years old, menopause after 50 years old, first child after 30 years old, or no children.  If you do have children, consider breast feeding for the first year and beyond.

Obesity – Being overweight is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer especially after menopause.  Stay at a healthy weight for your body frame

Diet and nutrition – increase consumption of fruits and vegetables and limit red meat

Use healthy fats: Monounsaturates such as a high quality, extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground flaxseed and oily fish such as wild Alaskan salmon and sardines (which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids) may help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer

Include whole soy products in your diet. Soy foods contain many cancer-protective substances, including isoflavones. Try to eat one to two servings of whole soy-based foods a day.

Eat more fruits and vegetables! Especially cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, bok choy, and cauliflower, which contain many different cancer-protective phytonutrients

Exercise – Even brisk walking for an hour a day can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by more than 15%.  The American Cancer Society recommends engaging in forty-five minutes to an hour of physical activity a day for at least five days a week.

{Statistics and data from the American Cancer society and Avon Foundation for Women}

{image:  found in www.vir-ems.com}

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