October is New Zealand’s Breast Cancer Month, which makes it a great time to make a donation to a charity supporting women with breast cancer, but also to take action to ensure you’re proactively protecting yourself.
TODAY 8 New Zealand WOMEN will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
THIS YEAR 650 will most likely die.
YET 30% of eligible women aren’t enrolled in free screening.
AND 60% of young women don’t know the signs beyond a lump.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand women, and early detection reduces the risk of dying from the disease by around a third. In New Zealand, screening mammograms start at 40, but if you’re long away from the big Four-Oh, you can still reduce your risk of Breast Cancer, and be aware and mindful of changes in your breasts.
To Support NZBCF: text PINK to 4644 to donate $3
Reduce Your Risk There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, but there’s a lot you can do to reduce your risk, such as changing risk factors that are under your control. Here’s what you can do:
Keep a healthy weight.
Don’t smoke: Accumulating evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women. In addition, not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.
Exercise regularly: 3-5 times a week as it provides a protective factor by assisting the maintenance of a healthy body weight.
Get enough sleep.
Don’t drink alcohol, or limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one per day: Alcohol interferes with estrogen levels and can raises estrogen levels in the body.
Avoid exposure to chemicals that can cause cancer (carcinigens) and try to reduce your exposure to radiation during medical tests like mammograms, X-rays, CT scans, and PET scans.
If you are taking, or have been told to take, hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives (birth control pills), ask your doctor about the risks and find out if it is right for you.
Breastfeed your babies, if possible: Breast-feeding may play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect.
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables hasn’t been consistently shown to offer protection from breast cancer. Choose organic where possible (these Oob Organic ice-creams are the perfect sweet pink treat). In addition, a low-fat diet appears to offer only a slight reduction in the risk of breast cancer.
However, eating a healthy diet may decrease your risk of other types of cancer, as well as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. A healthy diet can also help you maintain a healthy weight — a key factor in breast cancer prevention. A healthy diet will also maintain a healthy weight.
Check for Changes Get to know how your breasts normally look and feel. Women need to start checking their breasts from their twenties as young women can get breast cancer too.
Touch – your breasts in the shower. You’re feeling for any lumps or thickening of the skin even up into your armpits?
Look – stand undressed in front of a mirror. Can you see any physical changes to the breast shape, skin or nipples?
Check – any breast changes with your doctor. Pronto!
A friend and Colleague of mine, Emma, overcame her battle with Breast Cancer three years ago. She was diagnosed when she was 24. Emma wants to warn other women not to be complacent about breast health. “Don’t be so naïve to think that you’re safe or that it won’t happen to you. Breast cancer can get you at any age. Be aware and always get any change checked out by your doctor
Emma now sits on the board of NZ’s Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC) which supports, informs and represents those with breast cancer to make informed choices about treatment and care. The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation is a member of BCAC and provides financial support to the charity. You can donate at http://www.breastcancer.org.nz/donate