October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s kind of hard not to know it. Everything has been awash with pink—from the NFL to the Empire State Building. And then there are the pink ribbons….they’re everywhere! From the pins to social media avatars, the world is all about breast cancer awareness. It’s great that everyone is about it, but how many actually are truly aware of breast cancer?
What do I mean?
Did you know that breast cancer is one of the two most common cancers among women? Skin cancer is the other. About 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime?* That’s about 12% of 150 million people—roughly half the population of the US. No one can dispute that is a lot of people. More and more people can say that either they themselves or someone they know has been affected by breast cancer.
Millions of women are surviving this disease thanks to early detection and the continued improvements in treatment and research. Organizations like the American Cancer Society are on the front lines of the fight against breast cancer by educating women about risk factors, treatment options and helping them get tested to find the cancer earlier.
Based on the statistics, every woman should be aware of her own personal level of risk for breast cancer and ways in general she can lower her risk of getting the disease. At the end of the day, some of the factors—being a woman, age, and genetics—can’t be changed. However, we do have control over others including diet and exercise, smoking and other lifestyle choices can help lower your risk of getting breast cancer as well as improving your overall health.
Some of the known risk factors for breast cancer are listed below. To find out more about these and other factors linked to this disease, visit BreastCancer.org.
- Being a woman
- Family History
- Being overweight
Early detection is key in the battle against breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that:
- Women 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and continue to do so as long as they’re healthy
- Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam as part of their regular healthy exam every 3 years and every year starting at the age of 40.
- Women should routinely perform self-examinations and report any changes to a doctor or nurse right away.
For more information about early detection, visit the American Cancer Society.
This month there are all kinds of interesting (and fun) events going on around the world including walks, runs, landmarks being illuminated in pink and more designed to raise awareness. For example, on October 25th, the NFL and the American Cancer Society have teamed up for A Crucial Catch Day—a nationwide event to provide breast cancer education and free or low-cost screenings in under served communities.
Other events include:
Celebrities are getting in on the action too. Check out Paula Abdul‘s #CheckYourself video for the Avon Foundation for Women
*Statistics are courtesy of BreastCancer.Org