If you’ve ever looked into learning more about breast cancer, you know that there’s a TON of information out there. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to pull together some easy-to-understand information that feels empowering, not overwhelming. We’ve also partnered with the Keep A Breast Foundation™ to provide breast health education and support to young people around the world. A portion of all sales of our new Pink Grapefruit Farm to Tub Soap and Limited Edition Pink RIKI Colorful will go directly to the Foundation to support their mission.
According to the American Cancer Society®, about one in eight American women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. While it’s the second most common cancer in American women (skin cancer is the first), increased screening and better treatments have led to lower mortality rates. That’s why it’s so important to arm yourself with knowledge about breast cancer – awareness has literally saved lives!
First, know your breast cancer risk factors.
The word ‘risk’ can sound scary, but really it’s just something that might increase your chances of getting the disease. Having one risk factor, or even many, doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to get breast cancer. But knowing your breast cancer risk factors helps you make informed decisions, which can lead to earlier detection and a much greater chance of positive outcomes. These are just a few questions to get you started. Go over them with your doctor and ask her if there are any other risk factors you need to be aware of.
Are you female?
While men can certainly get breast cancer, too, the disease is much more common in women.
Are you over 40?
According to the Susan G. Komen® organization, only about four percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. are under 40. As you get older, your risk of breast cancer increases, with the highest rates in women over 70.
Do you have a family history of breast cancer?
You swap recipes, chat about work and gossip about the rest of the family, but make sure you’re chatting with female relatives about their cancer history, too! While the American Cancer Society® points out that most women who get breast cancer do not have a family history, those who do have a higher risk. The Susan G. Komen® organization notes that a woman whose mother, sister or daughter has been diagnosed is about twice as likely to get breast cancer than a woman without this family history. If she has more than one first-degree female relative with a history of breast cancer, her risk increases.
But the good news for those with a family history is that there are special screening guidelines and genetic testing available. These guidelines, which include clinical breast exams, annual mammograms and annual breast MRIs, are designed for early detection. That means if breast cancer does develop, it’s caught early, when the outcome is the best.
Do you have certain demographic characteristics that increase your risk?
Beyond those with a family history, there are certain groups of women who are slightly more at risk for breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society®, American women of Asian, Hispanic and Native American descent have a lower risk than Caucasian or African American women. Several studies have also shown that taller women have a higher risk than shorter women, and that women with denser breast tissue have a risk that is up to twice that of women with average density.
Again, these are just a few known risk factors. Make sure to talk to your doctor about what makes the most sense for you!
Live a preventative lifestyle.
Our friends at the Keep A Breast Foundation™ have a saying: prevention is the cure. Certain lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk for breast cancer, while other habits can help you detect it early, when it’s most treatable. The Susan G. Komen® organization has shown that when breast cancer is caught in Stage I, women have a 98-100% five-year survival rate. These are a few things that you can do to live a preventative and overall healthier lifestyle.
“Our friends at the Keep A Breast Foundation™ have a saying: prevention is the cure.”
Regular exercise is a major factor in living an all-around healthier lifestyle, and more and more studies are showing that it can also lower breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society® notes that it’s not clear exactly how exercise reduces the risk, but it may be due to effects on body weight, inflammation, hormones and energy balance. They also recommend that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of high intensity activity each week. Try combining the two to keep your activity interesting!
Many studies have shown the link between drinking alcohol and an increased risk of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society® has shown that women who have one alcoholic drink per day have a small increased risk (about seven to 10 percent) compared to non-drinkers. That risk goes up with the number of drinks per day. Alcohol has also been linked to other types of cancers, so limiting drinks is a good idea for lowering other risks, too.
While screening tools like mammograms can help detect cancer even before there’s a lump, monthly self-checks are vital for early detection. Johns Hopkins has found that 40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who felt a lump. The idea of performing a self-exam can be intimidating or even a little scary. But as the Keep A Breast Foundation™ puts it, don’t think of the exam as ‘looking for cancer.’ Think of it as getting to know your body, so that you know what’s normal for you. Their Keep A Breast app even walks you through step by step and can connect you directly to a healthcare professional if you find anything out of the ordinary.
Steer clear of harmful chemicals.
A lot of research has been done on the effect that environmental factors can have on breast cancer risk, and more studies are starting every day. According to the American Cancer Society®, chemicals that have estrogen-like properties are of special interest and could potentially affect breast cancer risk. A lot of these chemicals can be found in some plastics and certain cosmetics. That’s just part of the reason that all LimeLife skin care is organic and chemical-free and all LimeLife makeup is as natural as possible. You’ll never find any harmful chemicals in any of our products. Beyond a potential tie to breast cancer risk, chemicals in cosmetics can have other harmful effects. There are so many reasons to revamp your skin care routine with natural products that really perform! [link to natural skin care blog when available]
As always, you’re a part of the LimeLife family. While things like breast cancer risk and prevention might be tricky to talk about, remember that we’re always stronger when we’re together. Share this post with your mom, sister, friends and coworkers and encourage them to empower themselves, too!