October is marked as Breast Cancer Awareness Month across the country, and while the month has just ended, it has left memories of numerous overwhelming events supporting the cause across the world. Be it men all donned in Pink, celebrities supporting different charities or citizens participating in rallies, the month has been successful to a certain extent in raising awareness for the cure for breast cancer.
Now it is time for turning the awareness into action. According to research studies, approximately 1 in 8 women have fair chances of developing breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates that over 300 000 are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and 40 000 women fail to survive. While the focus of breast cancer has always been on women, it can also occur in men with relatively lower diagnosis and death rates.
Breast cancer is also the most common cause of cancer among women in most countries, especially in underdeveloped and developing countries due to increased life expectancy, change in lifestyles and changing reproductive patterns. Also, the death rates are higher in such countries due to limited awareness, lack of accessibility to timely and affordable diagnosis and treatment. Considerable attention is given to genetic factors that increase the risk of the condition, especially certain gene mutations that include BRCA1 and BRCA2. Women with a family history of breast cancer have higher chances of being diagnosed with the condition. However, only 20-30 percent of women with a family history are diagnosed with breast cancer that further lay stress to other factors that play major roles.
According to scientists and medical professionals, few changes in lifestyle can reduce the risk as well as improve the treatment and survival of breast cancer victims. The best part of these changes is that they will not only reduce the risk of cancer but other life-threatening diseases as well. Let’s have a look at some of the considerations from various studies to safeguard you from this deadly disease-
Say No to Tobacco:
‘Quit Smoking’ has almost become the slogan for every nation, as it has always been regarded as one of the most common factors for lung cancer. Nevertheless, not all know that smoking is even one of the prime reasons for breast cancer. Smoking is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer in younger and premenopausal women. It also complicates the treatment procedure and creates difficulty healing post-surgery and reconstruction of breasts. While those who are trying to quit smoking are vigorously using E-cigarettes, which is not at all a safe alternative. Therefore, quitting means quitting smoking in any and every form.
Limit Alcohol Consumption:
Can as little as one glass of alcohol a day can increase the risk of breast cancer? Studies say yes. But does it mean staying completely away from alcohol? Besides, what about a glass of wine that is supposed to be good for your heart and overall health? Numerous studies prove that there is a close connection between alcohol and the risk of breast cancer. It is regarded as an active agent to increase estrogen levels and other hormones that are associated with breast cancer. Women must limit their alcohol intake to one glass per day and even skipping it one in a while is considered better. Women who consume more than two drinks per day are at higher risk of getting affected by 20% in comparison to women who avoid drinking.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight:
Post-menopausal women are at higher risk of breast cancer by 30-60%. Excess body fat can manipulate estrogen and other hormone levels. The best part is that losing only 10 pounds can reduce the risk of breast cancer and other associated problems like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
An active lifestyle does not essentially mean going to work and social activities. Regular exercising and staying proactive is key. Even regular household chores can keep women active. Studies prove that women who exercise or go for a walk daily are more capable of handling breast cancer treatments than women who do not exercise. Medical experts suggest 45-50 minutes of brisk walking five days a week can immensely benefit women of all ages.
Not much research has been conducted to provide substantial pieces of evidence that link diet’s effect on breast cancer, however, the result of some studies are mixed that calls for more studies to be conducted in the near future. In general, increasing fresh fruit intake as a part of daily meal plans, green leafy vegetables, and whole-grain decreases the risk of breast cancer. As these foods are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, eating them regularly may prove beneficial to prevent breast cancer.
While wearing pink and active participation in various campaigns and events can make a difference, if you want to make an impact beyond Breast Cancer awareness, it is time to take action. Whether you are a survivor or a supporter, here are five ways that you can follow and help the breast cancer community not just in the awareness month but throughout the year-
Support at least one cancer Thriver (In need):
All you need is a wise heart, not just finance to support a thriving breast cancer victim. If you are capable, some financial help will be appreciated, but you can even help a victim by offering nutritional meals, cleaning, and transportation or by even just looking after.
Advocacy and Education:
You can make a world of difference by investing your valuable time and without spending a dime. Use your voice, your oral and written communication skills to advocate for change in research, policy, and care. Start from your local community by educating people about breast cancer.
It is only due to the support of people like you who have made it possible for the breast cancer community to make a global impact. Volunteer for local, national and global organizations that support breast cancer and they will be happy to consider you as a part of their community.