The color pink will start appearing everywhere during the month of October — it’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a health campaign promoting prevention, diagnosis, treatments, and cures for the most common cancer found in women — breast cancer.
Here are four ways to make the most of this important month:
This month starts with being informed. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, about one in eight women in the United States will experience breast cancer during their lifetime. While men can get breast cancer too, it is much more common in women, with women over the age of 50 being most at risk. About 11% of all new cases of breast cancer are found in women younger than 45, according to the foundation.
Check your health
This month is also a good reminder for women to check in with themselves, as there are many uncontrollable genetic factors that can put them at risk, according to YMCA:
Gender: Women are 100 times more likely to develop breast cancer than men.
Age: Two out of three women are diagnosed after age 55.
Genetics: A family history of breast cancer can put individuals more at risk.
Early menstruation or late menopause: Breast cancer is also associated with early menstruation (before age 12) and late menopause (after age 55).
Further, if they haven’t done so already, October is also a good time to get in the habit of having regular breast exams. A mammogram — the screening test for breast cancer — can help find breast cancer early when it’s easier to treat.
In addition, one of the first lines of defense against breast cancer is being vigilant with self-exams. Experts recommend checking breasts every month both visually and by touch, paying attention to any changes in how the breast or nipple looks or feels.
According to Bon Secours Health System, as one of them most common cancers in women and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women, breast cancer results in around 40,000 deaths a year.
For more information on how to schedule a mammogram with Bon Secours visit their website.
Prisma Health offers mobile mammography at offices or community events. For more information on how to schedule a mammography with Prisma Health visit their website.
Improve your lifestyle
During this month, another proactive step is to make changes in your lifestyle that can both improve your health and reduce your risk of cancer as well as other diseases and health issues. This is called lifestyle medicine, and it involves addressing nutrition, physical activity, and chronic stress in order to live healthier, according to YMCA.
YMCA also shared ways to help prevent breast cancer:
Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer, especially after menopause.
Stay physically active. Breastcancer.org reports that exercising at a moderate or intense level for four to seven hours per week can lower the risk of breast cancer.
Do not smoke. Smoking is linked to a number of diseases, including breast cancer in younger, pre-menopausal women.
Watch your diet. Eating too much saturated fat and not enough fruits and vegetables increases risk.
Cut back on alcohol. Also according to Breastcancer.org, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer, compared to women who don’t drink at all.
Spread the word
An important thing to do during Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to raise awareness. Most people can survive breast cancer if it’s detected and treated early. Talk to others about risk factors and lifestyle changes. Encourage your loved ones to get regular exams. Reach out to a loved one who is experiencing breast cancer and lend your support. Join local events and races that raise money and create additional awareness.