October is breast cancer awareness month. It is a month dedicated in raising awareness for the disease as well as debunking some myths about it.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breast cancer is the most common cancer in women both in the developed and less developed world. It is estimated that worldwide over 508 000 women died in 2011 due to breast cancer (Global Health Estimates, WHO 2013). Although breast cancer is thought to be a disease of the developed world, almost 50% of breast cancer cases and 58% of deaths occur in less developed countries (GLOBOCAN 2008).

Breast cancer survival rates vary greatly worldwide, with significantly low survival rates in less developed countries. This is due mainly to lack of early detection. Raising general public awareness on the breast cancer problem is essential for successful control of the disease and what a better way to do it by advocating how important it is for women, us, to take care of our breasts.

Kate Moss for breast cancerKate Moss teamed up with designer Stella McCartney to raise awareness for breast cancer (Source: Mail Online). More specifically, the British model used her perfect body to show off the British designer’s  specially designed lingerie whilst cheekily incorporating the famous BCA ribbon into the shot.

Stella McCartney commented ‘I wanted to remind women that when they wear this set, the first thing they put on in the morning, to keep on top of their health and visit their doctor regularly. I wanted it to be the initial starting point of awareness of this terrible illness. Not only does the set serve as a healthy reminder, but it looks great, fits incredibly well, and is comfortable and stylish’.

A percentage of the profits from the worldwide sales of the range will be donated to the Linda McCartney Centre in Liverpool, UK to help fund a new Mammography suite at the centre. The collection will be available online at www.stellamccartney.com, Stella McCartney stores and select department and specialty stores worldwide.

This lingerie line was created to remind women to keep healthy, to keep their breasts healthy. Our breasts are a part of our body that gets great attention but it is our responsibility to offer them the best of care.

Maintaining a healthy weight

eat veggiesA healthy weight is important for everyone. Weight gain can lead to a numerous health problems, including increasing your risk of developing breast cancer while at the same time reduces your risk of surviving it. Eating a healthy diet, including cancer-fighting foods, like broccoli and kale can help you stay healthy while protecting your body.

Exercise regularly

Being physically active is the best way to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight. Studies indicate being active lowers the risk of:

  • Breast cancer recurrence
  • Breast cancer-specific mortality (death from breast cancer)
  • Overall mortality (death from any cause, not necessarily breast cancer)

Try to exercise as much as possible during the week with a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise. And additionally, make minor lifestyle changes that will make you more active, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Minimize your alcohol intake and smoking

Studies have found that women who have two or more drinks per day have 50% higher risk to develop breast cancer than women who do not drink (Source: Breastcancer.org). As far as smoking is concerned, smoking does not only increase your risk for lung cancer but dramatically increases the risk of developing other types of cancers too, including breast cancer. Need a better excuse to quit smoking today?

breast-cancer-self-examGet checked, including self-check and clinical breast exam

It is really important to know your breasts. Do not feel embarrassed to feel them daily. When you know something well you can easily detect when something changes. Any change that you feel is an indication to make an appointment with your doctor just to put your mind at rest.

There are all sorts of diagrams and demonstrations showing you how to self examine your breasts but a daily feel can help enormously. Make it a habit to touch and examine your breasts each morning while you’re getting dressed, or before you go to bed at night and you will soon know how your breasts and nipples feel normally.

As you get closer to your period you will notice some changes which are normal, like increased sensitivity, while you discover their natural bumps and lumps. These are perfectly normal as it is absolutely normal and many women have un-smoothed breasts (Source: Medical Daily).

Additionally, it is important to know that all women should have a clinical breast exam at least every three years and annual exams and mammograms starting at age 40. Women with a family history of breast cancer should begin screening 10 years prior to the family member’s age of diagnosis.

Know your family history

In about 15% of cases, there is a family history of the disease. In cases of a family history of breast cancer, with an early onset age, inherited gene mutations run in the family, known as BRCA1, BRCA2 and PALB2 (Source: BreastCancer.org). If you think your family history “hides” a possible genetic predisposition to cancer, consider seeing a genetic counsellor to talk about getting tested.

Breast cancer does not target one particular race, class, or age group. It can happen to anyone. Early detection in order to improve breast cancer outcome and survival remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.
Lab scientist, sharp dresser and cooking guru Maria is one half of the original alwaysladies.com founding team. She brings her opinions with earnestness and a smile, even when there are razor blades inside.

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