Know & Protect Your Breasts
Breast Cancer Awareness in October and All Year Long
–By Dr. Danielle Lewis NMD–
We all become much more aware of our breasts in October, when everyone is wearing pink around us just as much as we see the colors black and orange for Halloween. It is that time of year for awareness, but do not just limit it to one month. We all need to know what to do for the rest of the year as well.
“What do I do & how often?”
Every month, lay on your back, raise your right arm over your head, use your left hand to examine your right breast. Starting with small circular motions (all over your breast & breast area) examine your breast looking for any new lumps or areas of concern. Once you have determined that every thing is “normal” complete monthly exercise by letting out a sigh of relief & being happy when you realize that the lumps you are feeling are always there, have not changed and that you do not feel any other changes to the breast tissue. Sounds simple right?
Your sense of palpation and familiarity with your breasts are your first line of detection & defense when it comes to catching breast cancer early. Most women will not go to the doctor for issues regarding her breast until she feels something “strange” in her breast. This does not replace your annual pap, where your doctor will also examine your breasts & your annual mammogram (if over 40). These are additional checks in between those visits.
“What other factors contribute to breast health?”
In addition to the regular checks described above, it is important to know other factors that can contribute to increased risk for developing breast cancer.
Knowledge is power so knowing what risk factors could potentially increase your chances of getting breast cancer is important.
The aging process…
Like many other health conditions, age is a factor. Getting older means increased risk of several conditions with breast cancer being no exception. Statistically, research states that breast cancer is rare in women under the age of 25 and steadily increases and plateaus between the ages of 50-55. However, it is important to note that it can occur at any age, which is why a woman should become familiar with her breasts at menarche (the age the menstrual cycle commences) so that she can detect tissue changes early on.
The genetics we are born with…
Genetics play a very important role in increased risk of developing breast cancer. It is important to be aware of close relatives (first degree relative) with a positive history of breast is important information to know. However, there is also a genetic marker known as BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation. These are both genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins that help repair damaged DNA. When either or both of these markers are impaired/mutated they are less capable of repairing any type of DNA damage thus possibly leading to breast cancer. Several DNA tests can be performed to determine if you have this mutation.
Lifestyle habits under our control…
Awareness of key lifestyle factors that you can personally address to decrease the risk of developing breast cancer include but are not limited to weight gain and sedentary lifestyle. Decreasing how sedentary you are (in other words increasing your physical activity) is very important in general for overall health. When it comes to the health of your breast moderate to high daily activity for at least 1 hour can decrease the risk of breast cancer by 14% to 25%. The more sedentary you are the more likely we are to gain weight, so it is important to stay active and fit.
The main point is that it is important to take the time each month to become familiar with the curves, lumps and bumps of your breast. Despite all the factors that can increase our risks of developing breast cancer, one thing is for sure; you must know your breast so that you can detect any change and seek professional advice as soon as possible.
Revolution Health Medical Center is currently accepting new patients. 602.265.1774