Even though October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, chances are you’re already aware of the disease: After all, one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. But while breast cancer is common, I still find myself clearing up myths and misconceptions about what causes the disease and who is at risk.
Here are 6 important breast-cancer facts that you might not know:
- Regular exercise is important for keeping breast cancer at bay. A sedentary lifestyle with little physical activity can increase your risk for the disease.
- Being overweight can also increase your risk for breast cancer. In part, that’s because fat cells make estrogen. Extra fat cells mean more estrogen in the body – and estrogen can make some types of breast cancer develop and grow. Extra fat cells can also trigger long-term, low-grade inflammation, which can play a role in the early development of cancer.
- Losing weight, on the other hand, can be protective. Studies show that breast cancer survivors that lose as little as 6 pounds and are able to keep it off for five years have higher survival rates.
- Frequent consumption of alcohol can increase your risk for breast cancer. The more alcohol you consume, the greater the risk.
- Don’t assume breast cancer isn’t something you need to worry about. An estimated 60 to 70 percent of people with breast cancer have no risk factors.
- Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, thanks in part to increased awareness, better screening and early detection, and new-and-improved treatment options.
It is also important to get a yearly mammogram and do a monthly self-exam to help catch breast cancer in early stages. This simple action may make a big impact on the future of your health.
Text GAMEPLAN to 99000 to annually receive Inova mammogram and breast self-exam text reminders.
Learn more about the Inova Breast Cancer Program, a comprehensive, nationally recognized network of breast care specialists and treatment facilities.