October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

-Toni Sicola, Executive Editor, Health and Wellness Professional

I’m no expert on breast cancer, so I’ve called in a team of folks from inside and outside the organization to run this month’s wellness events at ACMC. We will be holding Breast Cancer Awareness Forums at each of our 6 campuses throughout the month of October, giving away pink ribbon pins and cute little pink tote bags full of educational goodies from the American Cancer Society and Hers Breast Cancer Foundation. (The kick-off event happens TODAY at Fairmont!)

That being said, this post will still serve as a reminder in prevention for all of us ladies out there. (excerpted from an article posted this week in the examiner and gathered from various other academic sources)

  • Know your risks and family history.
    • Your risk increases if you have a close relative like a mom or a sister who’s been diagnosed with either breast or ovarian cancer.
    • If you can’t get much information, genetic screening will help.
  • Know the goods.
    • Regular self-exams help you get to know the unique landscape of your own breasts. If you know what’s always there, you’re far more likely to notice if something changes.
  • In general, maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, including a healthy weight.
    • Obesity is a risk factor for breast and ALL types of cancer, due to an enzyme produced by fatty tissue that stimulates a tumor-growing hormone called estradiol.
  • Avoid or stop tobacco use.
    • This one’s obvious, folks.
  • Avoid and/or minimize alcoholic drinks (2 or fewer per week).
    • 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. (source)
  • Start a low fat and high fiber diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables.
    • Fiber affects levels of estrogens in the body. Estrogens are normally secreted into the intestine, where the fiber binds with the hormone and moves it out of the body. Without adequate fiber, the estrogen can be reabsorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream. High levels of estrogen are linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. (source)
    • Studies have shown that women following a reduced fat diet were less likely to have a recurrence of breast cancer. (source)
    • Fruits and veggies contain antioxidants, which neutralize free-radicals in the body — free radicals are damaging to healthy tissue and are implicated in a host of health problems, including the creation of cancer cells.

  • Have your healthcare provider approve an exercise program tailored to your healthcare needs.
    • A study of more than 3,000 women from Long Island, N.Y., found that women who engaged in 10 to 19 hours of at least mild exercise per week from their reproductive years on had about a 30 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer. (source)

  • Exercise for 30 minutes for at least 5 days or as often as recommended to maintain your healthy weight.
  • Breastfeed your children.
  • Find ways to de-stress on a regular basis (maybe with exercise? maybe with quiet time?)
    • Stress can affect your nervous, endocrine and immune systems. Chronic stress may weaken your immune system, leaving you with less resistance to disease.
    • Chronic stress can lead to negative coping behaviors, which include a few things already on this list (drinking, smoking, overeating, eating the wrong foods).

Over the next month at all ACMC campuses, we’ll be promoting Breast Cancer Awareness by wearing pink every Friday. Join in the fun, even if you’re not part of the ACMC family, and Think Pink!

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