October is observed globally as the Breast Cancer awareness month. This is a great time of the year to spread awareness about this very serious issue. This disease is related to women, so it’s really important to educate our women about the disease, its symptoms, its cure, how to face it, and how to get support.
In October 1985, The American Cancer Society and Imperial Chemical Industries Pharmaceuticals launched a week-long event, which was the first attempt to draw the attention of the masses towards a very serious issue, breast cancer. Since then all over the world, different cancer awareness programs, including seminars, events have been conducted to spread the awareness of the illness, educate people about preventive and early detection techniques, and generate funds for research.
We all know that the pink ribbon is considered the symbol of breast cancer awareness campaigns. It represents the fear of disease, the hope for the future, and shows the women fighting with it.
Breast cancer is preventable cancer. From different results and studies, we came to know that there are many modifiable and non-modifiable causes of Breast Cancer. Breast cancer is a risk for those who have any family history of breast cancer or are leading an unhealthy stressful lifestyle. You need to adopt and carry out preventive measures for breast cancer. However, it is also a research-based assumption that most women who get breast cancer do not have it in the family.
Breast cancer is found to be the leading cause of death in women. We all know that breast cancer is not 100% preventable, but there are a few things a woman can do to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. These preventive measures include:
Diet and exercise are two main factors that can prevent cancer. Women should take a healthy diet to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Add green leafy vegetables, berries, and garlic containing phytochemicals to your diet. Take citrus fruits such as oranges as they contain antioxidants and vitamin C. Take beans and fortified breakfast cereals, as they boost the body’s immunity and prevent breast cancer. Eating fewer meat products and choosing organic food items decreases breast cancer risk.
Make a routine of doing regular exercise. For example, a daily walk for about 30-minute, it will make you healthy, fit and energetic throughout the day. Exercise lowers estrogen levels and can boost the immune system, which can help prevent any abnormal cells from growing and spreading. It is estimated that about 50% of breast cancers are due to obesity and inactivity. Following a healthy lifestyle also reduces the risk of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, which can increase the risk for breast cancer.
Examine your breast regularly. There is a risk of developing breast cancer six times more in women with dense breasts. Self-examination of the breast is very important to pick up early changes. Women over the age of 50, who have no risk factors for breast cancer, can start having regular mammograms done. Women who know that they are at risk of having breast cancer or have a family history of cancer should start getting their mammograms done earlier.
Women are fond of using different cosmetics. They use them on their skin without knowing the chemical constituents of the products. Many cosmetic products contain Parabens, which is found to be a carcinogen. Parabens are widely used as preservatives in deodorants, lipsticks, toothpaste, and shampoo. Another such carcinogenic product is Glycol which is most widely used in cosmetics and paints and dyes. They are also proven to be at risk of breast cancer. Women should avoid such products. While buying or using any product one be aware of the presence of these obnoxious chemicals or carcinogens in the product. Some women have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Such women in the high-risk category can also opt for mastectomy or removal of ovaries (a major site of estrogen production) to lower the long-term risk of breast cancer.
Most women avoid sunlight because they have a fear of getting tan. However, sunlight is very important because it is the richest source of Vitamin D. It promotes bone growth and bone healing. Vitamin D is also an alternative to estrogen-lowering drugs which helps to reduce breast cancer risk.
Women tend to undergo Hormone replacement after or before menopause. Hormone replacement therapy is very risky and is found to be the reason for developing breast cancer. Limit the use of HRT, reduce the dose and also opt for nonhormonal options whenever possible.
Women managing homes and offices suffer from stress and lack of sleep. These factors are the most common culprits causing many diseases and health issues. In the long run, a build-up of stress can result in an increased risk of breast cancer. Stress also causes an increase in weight, blood sugar, an imbalance in hormones, lack of sleep, obesity, blood sugar and increases estrogen production. All these factors are associated with breast cancer.
These are just a few of the preventive measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of breast cancer. We can reduce the risk of getting breast cancer with the help of our lifestyle. It is very important to note that always consult the best professional whenever you suspect anything abnormal with the organ.
On behalf of NAYS-Pakistan, we want to convey this message: never overlook your health or take it for granted. Don’t feel shy to discuss if you feel any changes/lumps/pain in your breast. Consult your doctor immediately, even if you think it’s just a minor thing. Early detection is the key to prevention and it’s always better to be safe than to be sorry. Always remember if you get this disease, never lose hope because this disease is now preventive. Willpower is the most important factor in surviving this war. So, let’s promise that whenever you come across anyone going through this disease, instead of showing pity, try to empathize with them, give them support, and boost their morale. It’s all they need the most.
Article: Ms. Sundeela Fayyaz