6 Breast Cancer Facts That Might Surprise You

Costanza Cocilovo, MD, is board certified in surgery, specializing in breast cancer and breast surgery. She is the medical director of the Inova Breast Care Center. Read Dr. Cocilovo’s profile.

 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.

shutterstock_400719694Here are 6 important breast-cancer facts that you might not know: 

  1. Regular exercise is important for keeping breast cancer at bay. A sedentary lifestyle with little physical activity can increase your risk for the disease.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Frequent consumption of alcohol can increase your risk for breast cancer. The more alcohol you consume, the greater the risk.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

1 Comment

  1. Tara on October 12, 2016 at 8:22 am

    Thank you for this information. My 45 year old younger sister was diagnosed with Breast Cancer last year after she, myself and our other sister went for mammograms. She is thin but not as active physically. She also eats pretty healthy. She has done chemo and radiation and had a mastectomy. She is doing well today a year later but this is quite a scare. We did not have a family history of the disease but our mother was diagnosed with stomach and lung cancer last year and died this year. I share all of this to say that I appreciate this article and doing whatever I can to reduce the risks from this disease. Thank you all for continuing to keep us informed and educated on what we can do to lower the risks.

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