Each October, a sea of pink highlights the importance of breast cancer awareness. Whether it is friends or family wearing pink clothing, or our favorite sports teams donning pink jerseys and gear, the importance of recommended breast care and other ways to strive for improved health should be recognized.
Research shows that lifestyle and environmental factors can play a pivotal role in our risk for cancer. Although most lifestyle factors influence the risk of breast cancer only to a minor extent, here are some tips to keep your breasts and your body healthy.
Breast Cancer Mammogram Screenings
The American Cancer Society recommends that women who are 40 years old or older undergo at least an annual mammogram screening test to try to detect breast cancer in earlier stages.
For women in their 20s and 30s, routine clinical breast examination and discussion with their health care providers about self-breast exams are recommended by the American Cancer Society.
Gather your Family History
Ask your family if anyone has been diagnosed with breast cancer or any other cancers, and report this history to your primary provider. This remains one way to help identify if you are at a greater risk for developing breast cancer and helps your health care providers manage this risk appropriately.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity can contribute to an increased breast cancer risk and other cancers in general. Consult your primary care provider regarding the appropriate level of regular exercise activity you should maintain while discussing healthy diet tips that avoid unhealthy fats and include fruits and vegetable consumption.
Avoid Unhealthy Habits
Avoid alcohol use and tobacco use to improve your health.
Breast health, and overall health in general, is a lifelong commitment. Different women will have different health care needs and issues. Decisions about your specific needs should be discussed by you and your primary health care practitioner.
Dr. Batalo is a medical oncologist with FirstHealth Outpatient Cancer Center, which provides services in conjunction with Pinehurst Medical Clinic. For more information on breast health and other health concerns, visit www.firsthealth.org or call 800-213-3284.