Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Protect Yourself Now
Breast cancer impacts so many women and I’m sure many of you have been touched by this horrible disease. Even though it can hit women of any age, many of us feel like it won’t happen to us. Sadly, this is simply not the case: I have heard from many young mothers (and even some pregnant women) who were diagnosed with breast cancer, and it is a devastating diagnosis no matter how old you are. While doctors do not know exactly how to prevent breast cancer, in honor of breast cancer awareness month we’ve put together a list of things you can do now to keep those jubblies as safe as possible (but remember: if you are at a higher risk due to family history or other factors, please speak with your doctor about other steps you can take).
(1) Don’t Smoke
This one’s a no-brainer: in addition to the host of other horrible things associated with smoking, there is an increased risk of breast cancer.
(2) Eat Well & Get Moving
In other countries, a low fat diet rich in fruits, vegetables and grains has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer (though this hasn’t been duplicated in the US). Staying active can also help keep your weight in check, which can also reduce your risk.
Although there is some debate on this, a major study has shown that you can decrease your risk of breast cancer by 4.3% for every 12 months of breastfeeding, and an additional 3.4% for each child that you breastfeed. Not necessarily a reason to have more children than you intended, but a nice benefit if you were planning on breastfeeding.
(4) Drink Less, and Mostly Red Wine
Women who have two or more drinks of alcohol a day have a 41% increased rate of breast cancer, so be sure to generally keep your consumption below that level. The only exception? Red wine, which can reduce the risk when consumed in moderate amounts
(5) Regular Mammograms & Self-Examinations
Keeping an eye on your breasts doesn’t actually prevent breast cancer, but it does help make sure that, if something does go wrong, you catch it early when it’s more treatable. You should do a self-exam once a month, right after your period when any hormonal shifts in breast consistency are at their lowest. The shower is a great place for this, and you can even pick up a handy exam tutorial to keep in your shower (like this one). Your annual exam should also include a thorough breast exam and, eventually, you should start having mammograms on an annual basis (at age 40 or 50, depending on what your doctor recommends).
(6) The Pill
Some studies suggest that taking hormonal birth control pills can slightly increase your risk of breast cancer. Before you stop taking the pill, though, remember that it reduces your risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer, so speak to your doctor about what’s best for you.
Also in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’ve teamed up with Belly Bandit on the Rosie Pope Organic Pink Belly Bandit. This limited edition Belly Bandit not only gets your belly back to the way you remember it but also donates a portion of the proceeds to Shades of Pink foundation helping breast cancer patients pay for the extra costs health insurance forgets about such as food, travel, childcare during treatment, wigs and so on. So do something good for you and for many others.