Say No To Breast Cancer

It is October and this month commemorates the breast cancer awareness month.
My heart goes out to anyone who is fighting breast cancer or anyone who knows someone going through this trying situation. Receive strength.

Apart from the fact that this is a good course I also love that it is represented by the pink ribbon.Pink is my favorite colour so I am always biased towards anything pink. I had to make a conscious effort not to make pink the entire theme for my wedding.That is on a lighter note.

Seriously, women need to show their breasts some love.
During my housemanship year, and when I was on my general surgery rotation, I came across a number of patients with breast cancer. That honestly was not a fun posting for me. Due to a myriad of factors many of those patients I saw presented with stage 4 metastatic cancer( which means that the cancer had spread to different parts of their bodies). Yet if only someone somewhere had picked up the signs and symptoms early, they would not have presented late. Hence the whole essence of the breast cancer awareness month.

Prevention is always better than cure. I know there are now various treatment options for breast cancer ranging from surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, immunotherapy, amongst others. However these have their pros and cons.

When was the last time you had your breast examined clinically?
When was your last mammogram?
When was the last time you carried out your own self breast exam?
Now this post is not only for females but it is for everyone. Everyone has a special woman or lady in his or her life. It could be your mum, wife, sister, daughter,  grand-daughter, daughter-in-law, grandma,etc. So everyone should be concerned.

Now I will give you some statistics according to the CDC ( Centers for Disease Control and prevention). In 2014 ;
Some scary figures right. I like numbers and facts so that we can all appreciate and see the importance of this matter.

There some Myths and Facts about breast cancer.

MYTH 1: " Most breast cancers run in families".

FACT: Only about  5 to 10% of breast cancers are thought to be inherited, while the other 90% is mostly due to lifestyle and enviromental factors.

MYTH 2: "There is nothing you can do to lower your risk of developing breast cancer".

FACT: 90% of breast cancers are mostly due to enviromental and lifestyle factors.To ensure your risk are as low as possible, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and limit the amount of alcohol you drink.

MYTH 3: " Bras cause Breast cancer ".

FACT: Underwire bras do not cause breast cancer. A 2014 scientific study looked at the association between wearing a bra and breast cancer. There was no real difference in risk between women who wore a bra and women who did not wear a bra.

MYTH 4:" Regular mammograms prevent cancer".

FACT: Mammograms do not prevent breast cancer,but they can save lives by detecting breast cancer as early as possible, when it is most treatable. 

MYTH 5: " Antiperspirants cause breast cancer".

FACT: There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that antiperspirants cause breast cancer, either because of toxin buildup or aluminium exposure.

MYTH 6: "I had a normal mammogram so I do not need  another".

FACT: Once is not enough. Every woman age 40 or older should have an annual mammogram. Depending on how rapidly a tumor grows, mammography can detect it as much as two years before a manual exam can.

MYTH 7: "Mammography gives off unsafe levels of radiation."

FACT: The radiation given off from modern mammography equipment is considered so low that it poses no risk of triggering cancer in healthy cells
Prevention of breast cancer starts with maintaining healthy habits.The following are very important tips to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

1) Control your weight: Being overweight increases your risk of developing breast cancer especially with a body mass index of more than 25. So advocating that people should loose weight is not only for aesthetic purpose but actually saving lives.

2) Be physically active: Physical activity can help to maintain a healthy weight which in turn helps to prevent breast cancer. For most adults the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least  150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly plus strength training at least twice a week.

3) Breastfeeding :This  is protective. It plays a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breastfeed the greater the protective effect. So if you are a woman of reproductive age-group yet to start a family make up your mind to breastfeed.

4) Avoid eating unhealthy food: Maintain a healthy diet. Diet play a very crucial role in so many cancers. Actually no food or diet can prevent you from getting breast cancer but some foods can make your body the healthiest it can be and help lower your risk for breast cancer. A diet rich in fruits,vegetables, legumes, and whole grains are the best. Eating food grown without pesticides may protect against unhealthy cell changes.

5) Avoid alcohol: Compared to women who do not drink at all, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer. Experts estimate that the risk of breast cancer increases by another 10% for each additional drink a woman regularly has each day. Research has consistently shown that drinking alcohol can increase levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Alcohol also may increase breast cancer risk by damaging DNA in cells.

6) Avoid smoking: Simply say no to smoking whether active smoking or passive smoking.
Smoking increases the risk of so many cancers including breast cancer especially in younger premenopausal women.

7) Limit the dose and duration of hormone replacement therapy: Combination hormone therapy(estrogen and progesterone) for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer. So if you have to take these medications maybe for menopausal symptoms you need to weigh the risks of the benefits and the risks by talking to your doctor.

8) Do a monthly self breast examination yourself : Even though current guidelines do not recommend self breast examinations anymore, however I think it is still a good idea to feel  for lumps or note any changes in your breast every month. This should be done few days after your menstrual period when the breasts are less likely to be tender, swollen or lumpy. If you notice any change at all , see your doctor immediately.Also for every woman who is 40 years and above, get a mammogram( a special scan of the breasts) at least yearly.

I hope we are more knowledgeable and enlightened with these information and would help ourselves, friends and family to make healthy life choices.

Happy Breast Cancer Awareness Month !

Warm regards,
Dr Funmi.


Popular posts from this blog

Self-care in Residency

The Concept of Time

Happy New Year !