Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

By: Ashmar Mandou

Research from The American Cancer Society has shown that smoking, drinking and obesity can all increase the risk of breast cancer. While we have all heard about the health risks of smoking, the alcohol and breast cancer link may be news. Many studies show that a glass of wine a day is good for heart health but there is also evidence that alcohol increases a woman’s cancer risk. For every alcoholic drink consumed per day, a woman’s breast cancer risk goes up an average of 10 percent. Women will have to weigh the heart benefits against the risks. Also, overweight women, especially postmenopausal, have about a 1.5 to 2x higher risk than lean women. However, women who get regular physical activity have a 10 percent -25 percent lower risk than those who are inactive.

The Best Way to Protect Yourself

The best protection is early detection. To increase your chance of detecting cancer early, there are three steps every woman should follow:

1. Perform a self-exam monthly. Get familiar with how your breasts normally look and feel. This way, any changes will be noticed right away. Look for

• a change in size or shape

• dimpling or puckering of the skin

• discharge from the nipple

• scaly, red or swollen skin on the breast

• a lump on the breast or underarm area

2. Get an annual exam. This regular check-up should include a breast exam and give you a chance to ask questions about breast health.

3. Go for a yearly mammogram. The National Cancer Institute recommends that women 40 years and older should get a mammogram every year. Women with a family history of breast cancer may need to start earlier than that. Talk to your doctor about when and how often you should go. Mammograms are vital because they can detect breast cancer before a lump can be felt, at its very earliest stage.

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