How to Assess Your Risk of Getting Breast Cancer
By Monica Wilcox
I need your help to save the lives of millions of women. But first we’re going to save YOURS.
Here are some critical facts to help you keep your breasts healthy and cancer free.
Assessing Your Risk
- Your biggest risk factor for breast cancer is age. 95% of new cases and 97 % of breast cancer deaths occur in women 40 years or older. If you’re over 40 preventive measures are mandatory.
- Your left breast is statistically more prone to developing cancer than your right one. Scientists are not sure why.
- Only 5-10% of breast cancers occur in women with a genetic predisposition. Just because this disease doesn’t run in your family DOESN’T mean you’re in the clear.
- Women WITH the gene mutation run a lifetime risk as high as 4 in 5 of developing the disease. If the women in your family (maternal AND paternal) have battled breast cancer get educated and find a fantastic doctor.
- Over 50; get your mammogram. It’s been estimated that if every women over 50 got a yearly mammogram, breast cancer deaths in this age group would drop by 25% or more. If you’re under 50 talk to your doctor about when you should start getting mammograms or a breast thermography.
- If you live in the U.S you have the highest risk of getting breast cancer in the world.
- Being overweight increases your risk. Research has found a strong correlation between increased weight and breast cancer, especially for those who gained weight in adolescence or after menopause.
- Breastfeeding your baby has consistently been shown to lower your risk of breast cancer.
- If you’ve been on hormone replacement therapy for more than 5 years, you have a higher risk of getting breast cancer, especially if both estrogen and progesterone are given together. If you’re on HRT or if you are premenopausal, thoroughly evaluate your options.
- If you are of Ashkenazi (French, German, and East European) Jewish descent you have a significantly higher (1 in 40) chance of carrying the breast cancer gene.
- Nurses who work night shifts and flight attendants who disrupt their circadian rhythm are at a higher risk for breast cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancerrecently concluded shift work, especially at night, is carcinogenic to humans.
- If your breasts are dense, your risk goes up 4 to 6 fold over women with lower breast density.
Now that you’ve got a grasp on your risk, let’s talk…
Think of your body as your castle and these preventative measures as your defensive walls. Many of these tips come from Owning Pink’s holistic guru, Dr. Lissa Rankin.
- Being socially isolated and stressed out increases the speed at which breast cancer tumors grow. A happy spirit lends to a happy body. Are we really all that surprised?
- “Medicate” each and every cell with healthy food:
- Eat 4-5 servings of vegetables and fruits per day, preferably raw.
- Limit your intake of red meat.
- Add fiber whenever you can.
- Avoid drinking more than one glass of alcohol per day. If you do drink, make sure you are getting enough folic acid in your diet. You may need a supplement.
- Use extra-virgin olive oil, raw flaxseed oil, and cod liver oil.
- Chow down on these antioxidant super foods: kale, beets, carrots, beans, collard greens, brussel sprouts, blueberries, and broccoli. If you hate veggies, Lissa recommends you try Sun Chlorella.
- Jump on the green juice bandwagon – it alkalinizes your body. Cancer prefers an acidic environment.
- Avoid dairy or use organic butter, cheese, and milk. They are less likely to be contaminated with human growth hormones or estrogen.
- Limit sugar. Cancer loves sugar.
- If you are at high risk talk to your doctor about supplements you can take.
- Practice monthly breast exams.
- Get SOME sun - 20 minutes a day keeps cancer away.
- Attitude counts – patients are more likely to survive if they don’t take on an identity of “breast cancer victim”. Visualize your breasts as healthy. Eliminate all fearful thoughts of breast cancer and BELIEVE that you have the power within, and the measures without, to stay healthy.
Now to Save the Life of Your Mother, Daughter, Sister, Best Girlfriend…
I don’t have breast cancer. But I know I’ve got, along with every other red-blooded American women, a 1 in 8 shot (compared to 1 in 11 in 1970) of being diagnosed with this disease. Now that we’ve covered our personal risk factors, and know the preventative steps we can take to stay healthy, the next step is to help support those who are in the trenches, fighting to find a cure, dreaming of a day when breast cancer is no longer the second deadliest form of cancer to women (behind lung cancer).
Because I don’t believe an individual has to be in the throes of a disease to do somthing about it, I’ve committed my legs to doing the 3-Day For The Cure. I’ll be walking 60 miles around San Francisco over 3 days, sleeping in one of a hundred pink tents, celebrating LIFE with breast cancer survivors and the STRUGGLE with hundreds of mournful family members.
For the last three months I’ve been training with my team, The LiveMore Girls (we live in Livermore, CA), walking over 500 miles to prepare for this walk and raising money to meet my pledge. I only have a few weeks left before the big event and I desperately need a FEW PINK SPONSORS to help me meet my pledge. Your donation goes directly to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which contributes the greatest amount of money to breast cancer research behind the U.S. government. In the last few weeks I have trained with survivors who know they would not be alive today if it were not for the groundbreaking research that has been done in the last 5 years. Every donation counts and I’d be VERY, VERY honored to have your pink support as I walk the walk. I’ll walk a mile in YOUR name (or the name of a loved one) if you make tax deductable contribution and sponsor me.
In the meantime, empower every woman you love by sharing this information so they can assess their own risk and raise up their defensive walls.
Do you have a breast cancer story to share? Have you empowered the “C word” by fearing it? Do you believe that knowledge and attitude can fight off disease?