Happy October! Many of us love this time of year for the cooler temperatures, festivals, and pumpkin flavored EVERRYTHING. I also really love how God shows off his artistic abilities by using the leafs on trees as a beautiful autumn canvas.
But, October is also Breast Cancer Awareness month. This month is set aside to educate people about breast cancer and how to realize if you have early signs of the disease. For the nation to specify a WHOLE MONTH to one type of cancer, you know it has to be worth looking into. In fact, statistics show that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. That’s scary! But don’t let that make you run – instead let it guide you to being proactive because “God did not give us a spirit of fear. But of power, of love, and a sound mind” 2 Timothy 1:7.
By knowing the early signs of cancer, we can learn how to do our own exams and simply “cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalms 55:22.
Who will know what’s ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ for your body better than you? Nobody! So click here to learn how to do your monthly breast exam. These self-breast exams have saved many lives. In fact, John Hopkins Medical Center says that about 40% of breast cancer cases were discovered by finding lumps by the patients themselves. Do these exams monthly. Setting a phone reminder on the 1st of each month is a great way to remind yourself.
With any disease, we all have a ton of questions. So I did some research and found answers that we all should learn!
Question: Do women who get breast cancer have a family history of the disease?
Answer: No! Although a family history does boost your risk, having an immediate relative such as your mother or sister with breast cancer could double your chances of getting it. Having 2 immediate relatives increases the chances 3x. (According to the American Cancer Society). However, 85% of women who develop breast cancer have no close relative with the disease and many with the disease in their family never get it. So ladies… don’t feel like you’re guaranteed to be diagnosed! That’s not the case – just talk to your doctor to see if you should get screened more regular than others without the family history.
Questions: Which eating trend should you avoid to improve your breast health?
Answer: Any diet with a high amount of fats, especially saturated fats. Low-carb diets often have a higher amount of fat because they often use heavy fats instead of carbs in foods to make them taste better. Women with a high amount of fat in their diet have a 28% higher risk of getting breast cancer from hormone related problems. Cancer with a hormone related etiology makes up for about 75% of diagnoses. Nonetheless, no single eating plan is 100% ideal. Your best bet is to simply eat well-rounded meals made of clean foods. This includes whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, veggies, and small amounts of healthy fats.
Question: What may be the cause of breast cancer?
Answer: Like most cancers, the cause is still unknown. However, most all scientists believe the cause is by nature over nurture – meaning it has a genetic link and not that it’s something we can bring upon ourselves. There are many FALSE myths of things that people have said could cause breast cancer such as wearing underwire bras, carrying your cell phone in your bra, using deodorant with chemicals in it, or having breast implants. None of those are true! (And I have no idea who started the myth about the underwire, but that’s definitely not true!) Some studies show that girls who log less than 6 hrs of sleep have low melatonin and therefore too much estrogen, which is a risk factor for the disease. However it’s very hard to prove. Again, don’t stress about this. It’s just important to remember that sleep impacts our lives and the balancing acts our bodies in many, many ways.
Question: What are risk factors for breast cancer?
Answer: Some risk factors include having a close family member who had breast cancer, starting menopause after the age of 55, getting a period before the age of 12, having dense breasts, and some studies link taking hormonal birth control/hormonal fertility treatments with a rise in risk. Mutations in certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, are also linked to higher risk of getting breast cancer. This can only be determined through a genetic test, and even if you have these mutations it doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to get breast cancer. Breast cancer is diagnosed more often in Caucasian females over any other race. Although women are 100% more likely to get the disease over men, men can get it as well.
Question: What is most linked to breast cancer? Breast size, heavy periods, weight, or all of these?
Answer: Weight. About 15% of breast cancers are linked to obesity, according to the Journal of National Cancer Institute. They believe this is because fat causes inflammation, and inflammation is known to cause tumors to grow and increase estrogen release. Researchers also think a high amount of cholesterol could be to blame.
Question: Do all people with breast cancer eventually die from the disease?
Answer: No! In fact, with about 2.9 million female breast cancer survivors alive today, it is larger than the amount of survivors of any other cancer. Also, when breast cancer is detected early, the 5-year survival rate is 98%.