October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in America, also known as BCAM. This month is dedicated to raising awareness, encouraging and producing research, and striving for a cure for this disease. Numerous businesses and organizations take advantage of this opportunity during October to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. Along with fundraising and research, it is important for women to take precautions for their own bodies and know the risk factors for this common yet devastating disease.
What are the risks?
Although the clear cause of breast cancer is undetermined, there are several risk factors that research has revealed. Risk factors such as a family history of breast cancer, early menstruation as a child, and late menopause are hereditary risks and unfortunately, out of our control. However, if you are at a high risk based on these genetic factors, there are lifestyle modifications you can make to lower your risk. Some of these changes include exercising regularly, limiting the use of tobacco products, avoiding second-hand smoke, and limiting alcohol consumption. According to the American Cancer Society drinking one alcoholic drink each day increases your risk for breast cancer by 7% – 10%, and consuming two or three per day increases your risk by 20%. Also, overweight women are at risk that is 1.5 times higher than women at a healthy weight. Small changes in your day to day life could potentially make a huge difference.
Take precautionary measures.
According to the Breast Cancer Research and Assistance Fund, “the best protection is early detection.” Starting at the age of 20, you should conduct self-examinations every month to ensure there are no changes in your breasts. You should also receive a breast examination every one to three years from your gynecologist. Be very diligent about getting an annual mammogram once you turn 40. This is the standard routine for detecting cancerous breast lumps, and it is very successful. Add these appointments and examinations to your monthly/yearly calendar to keep everything in check, so no precaution is missed.
There are many organizations that need donations and volunteers to further their research and treatment development. Some of these organizations include the American Cancer Society, The Rose, SHARE, National Breast Cancer Foundation, and many more. Research which organizations have a branch or a way to get involved in your community and start volunteering. October is the perfect month to get involved in helping breast cancer victims!