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Breast Cancer Awareness

Every October, we commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness month, an opportunity to spread awareness about the disease that kills nearly 41,000 women every year. mAlthough the exact causes of Breast Cancer are unknown, here are some sobering facts about how it affects women:

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women worldwide

  • 1 in 8 women receive a breast cancer diagnosis

  • On average, every 2 minutes a female is diagnosed with breast cancer

  • 1 woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes

  • Over 3.3 million breast cancer survivors are alive in the U.S. today

  • An estimated 2,470 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer

  • 1 in 1,000 men will receive a breast cancer diagnosis

  • Breast cancer occurrence and death rates generally increase with age

  • Only 5-10% of individuals diagnosed have a family history of breast cancer

  • African American women have the highest mortality rate from breast cancer as they tend to be diagnosed later and with more aggressive cancers.

  • Breast cancer incidence rates are higher among Black women than white women for women under age 45.

  • Black women are more likely than white women to get triple-negative breast cancer, a kind of breast cancer that often is aggressive and comes back after treatment.

  • Never having given birth and not breastfeeding have also been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

  • The increasing breast cancer rates in all Black Women – regardless of country of origin- have been partly linked to a movement towards a more modern lifestyle.

Breast cancer can affect anyone. While you cannot change your genetic makeup, you can make lifestyle changes that can help reduce your risk. Identify unhealthy behaviors and take action to change

An inadequate diet can negatively affect the health of the body’s cells as well as contribute to obesity. A nutritious diet is a key component of weight management, and certain eating patterns have been associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease, including cancer.

A diet which consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, and olive oil has consistently been associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer. Evidence suggests that people who eat a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables and high in fiber may have a slightly lower lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.

No foods can prevent or cure breast cancer, but some can boost your immune system and may help lower your risk. Foods to add to your diet include:

  • High-fiber foods (beans, lentils)

  • Soy, tofu

  • Cruciferous vegetables (arugula, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower)

  • Carotenoid vegetables (carrots, leafy greens)

  • Citrus fruits (lemons, grapefruit)

  • Berries (cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)

  • Fatty fish (tuna, salmon, sardines, trout)

  • Coffee or green tea (three to five cups of coffee may slightly lower breast cancer risk)3

Foods and beverages that you may want to avoid or limit, include:

  • Soda

  • Alcohol

  • High-sodium (salt) foods (e.g., processed and fast food)

Emphasizing changeable, preventable and lifestyle risk factors is essential to developing a strategy for breast cancer prevention including:

· Smoking: Smoking raises the risk for all cancers, including breast cancer in Black women.

  • Heavy alcohol use: Having one drink per day has been found to increase breast cancer risk by 7% to 10% in adult women.

  • Obesity: Black women have the highest obesity rates in the United States. High body weight women are 1.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer after menopause. High body weight is known to be associated with increased inflammation and alterations in serum levels of potential growth regulators

  • Sedentary lifestyle: Physical activity is protective against breast cancer by as much as 25% to 30%.

  • Exposure to radiation: Young women who have had radiation therapy for another condition are especially at high risk.

  • Taking certain forms of hormone replacement therapy for five or more years has been associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including taking diethylstilbestrol (DES). Women who took DES have a higher risk of developing breast cancer later in life.

Although there are many ways to join in the fight against Breast Cancer, it is important that we remember and remind others of the basic steps all women should engage in to protect themselves against this threat.


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