October is National Breast Cancer month. Let us remember those who have died from this disease, those who are fighting this disease, and those who have survived this disease. Approximately 1.3 million people are diagnosed annually with breast cancer making it the most prevalent cancer in the world today. It is randomly widespread, striking women and men of all ages and races. This type of cancer causes cells in the breast tissue to divide and grow without normal control. In the US alone more than 261,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, according to the American Cancer Society, making it the second most common malignancy in women after skin cancer. The chance of developing breast cancer for a woman in the United States is about 1 in 8 over the course of her lifetime. More than 40,000 women will die of breast cancer this year.
The good news is that the death rates from this devastating disease continue to drop because of improvements in early detection and constant advancements in treatment. All cancers arise from an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells but each patient’s treatment and prognosis can differ radically depending on her type of breast cancer, how advanced it is, and other contributing factors.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, breast changes that warrant a doctor’s attention include a lump, swelling or thickening; dimpling or skin irritation; breast pain; nipple pain or an inverted nipple; red or flaky nipple or surrounding skin; or a discharge other than breast milk. These symptoms don’t necessarily mean a malignancy is present and they may be a symptom of a benign condition, such as a cyst or infection. However, always see a physician when something abnormal occurs. Remember, early detection is the key to survival.
Male Breast Cancer:
Breast cancer is most commonly thought of as a woman’s disease but male breast cancer does occur. It is estimated that among men in the US there are 2,240 new cases of invasive breast cancer annually and 410 breast cancer related deaths. Male breast cancer is a cancer that forms in the breast tissue of men. Male breast cancer is most common in older men, although it can occur at any age. Men diagnosed with male breast cancer at an early stage have a good chance for a cure. The problem is that many men delay seeing their doctors if they notice unusual signs or symptoms, such as a breast lump. For this reason, many male breast cancers are diagnosed when the disease is more advanced making the resulting is a poor prognosis.
Breast cancer screening tests, which are done on symptom-free women, can help to diagnose early cases. Early detection methods include clinical exams by medical professionals, self breast exams and screening mammograms-which are recommended for women age 40 and over-according to the American Cancer Society. Women with a family history of breast cancer can also undergo genetic testing to determine if they are at increased risk of developing it.
Here is a link to a useful self-exam chart:
Link to self exam: http://www.healthywomen.org/sites/default/files/ShowerCard.pdf
Some breast cancer risks, such as age and heredity, can’t be controlled. But as with so many other diseases, eating right and exercising can help lower your chances of developing breast cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, other risk-reducing tips include:
- Limiting alcohol intake to less than one drink per day
- Limiting dietary fat
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Foregoing hormone therapy at menopause
- Limiting exposure to pesticides and antibiotics
- Getting six hours or more of sleep each night
- Exercising: the latest research shows that physical activity reduces the risks of breast cancer and its never too late to start. So, get up and get moving!
Vegetables: The benefits: Cruciferous veggies contain phytonutrients that stop the spread of cancer and halt cancer cells from forming. These phytonutrients also shift estrogen metabolism so your body produces a form of estrogen that doesn’t drive breast cancer. Load your diet with broccoli, broccoli rabe ( a member of the mustard family similar to turnips. Pictured),
brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale. To get a bigger cancer-busting bang, cook them in a small amount of extra virgin olive oil, which will help your body absorb more nutrients. Eat raw carrots. Harvard researchers have found young women who eat two or more servings of carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables (oranges, broccoli, carrots, romaine lettuce and spinach) had a 17 percent lower risk of breast cancer. Broccoli and Cabbage: Research has shown that broccoli actually kills cancer cells. Eat your veggies!
Green Tea: Green tea consumption may reduce your breast cancer risk by up to 53 percent. Drink 2 to 4 cups a day—you can also make a pot and drink it cold in the summer. A University of Southern California research team found green tea lowered breast cancer risk by up to 53 percent.
Fiber: High-fiber foods lower your risk by 42 percent.
Fish: Omega-3 oils from salmon (wild-caught only, please) reduce your risk by up to 94 percent.
Flaxseed and Chia seeds: Flaxseed may reduce risk by 54 percent, according to recent studies. Chia seeds are similar to flaxseeds but more potent (high in anti-oxidants, fiber, calcium).
Walnuts: Two ounces—just half a handful—of walnuts per day reduces your risk.
Fruit: A few apples a day may keep breast cancer at bay—eat them with skins. Pomegranates may reduce breast cancer risk by up to 87 percent, according to another recent study.
Once again, diet plays an important part in health and maintaining a high quality of life. It has overwhelmingly been proven that plant based diets improve and prolong your life.