Breast Cancer

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What You Need to Know

Now is a perfect time for brushing up on what we know about breast cancer. Read on for more about breast cancer risk factors and how you can protect yourself.

Breast Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

Nearly 1.5 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year all over the world. Here are the main risk factors for breast cancer:

Age: Chances of getting breast cancer increase with age. In fact 66% of breast cancer diagnoses are found in women who are 55 or older.
Family history: A family history of breast cancer, especially with immediate female relatives (mother/sister) is a significant risk factor.
Obesity: Being obese or overweight significantly increases one¿s chances of getting breast cancer.

Race/ethnicity: White women are more prone to getting breast cancer. However, African American women are more likely to develop aggressive breast cancer.
Menstruation and menopause patterns: Women who start menstruating before the age of 12 and/or experience menopause after the age of 55 have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of developing breast cancer among younger women.

What You Can Do to Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Exercise regularly, maintain an optimal body weight (BMI of less than 25), reduce alcohol consumption and stop smoking.

Foods That Can Prevent Breast Cancer

Physicians recommend blueberries, avocados, green tea, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, brussels sprouts, carrots, grapes, salmon, tofu, soy products and flaxseed oil as part of a cancer-fighting diet.

Do It Yourself Breast Exam

Doctors recommend that women over 29 do a breast self-exam (BSE) every month to check for abnormalities. BSEs are best done a few days after your period and involve the following steps:

Take off your clothes, stand in front of a mirror with your hands on your hips and examine the overall appearance of your breasts. Check for size, shape, symmetry, skin texture, and colour. Then, raise your hands above your head and examine the appearance of your breasts again. When in the bath/shower, raise your left arm and with your right hand, apply firm pressure all over the left breast (underarm region, bottom and insides of your breasts) to check for lumps or hardness. Switch hands and repeat.
Breast Cancer Symptoms to Watch Out For

If you detect lumps, swelling, or redness in your breast, develop a nipple rash, or notice a sudden change in the appearance of your breasts, make an appointment with your physician for a thorough evaluation.

Remember, it is important to be vigilant when it comes to breast cancer. The earlier it is detected, the higher the chances of beating it.

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