I was really surprised to hear of Angelina Jolie’s recent decision to have a double mastectomy. I’m not sure if you’ve read about it or not yet, but her beloved mother, Marcheline Bertrand, sadly passed away from breast cancer a few years ago. Angelina discovered she too had the gene and therefore her risk of also developing this was very high.
I must say, I really do have such incredible respect for her – making a decision to take a preventative step such as this wouldn’t have necessarily been easy. I admire Ange for taking control of her future and piece of mind. When I read things like this, I can’t help but think, what would I do? I believe I would do the same.
Between Angelina and the beautiful Giuliana Rancic, who have each recently undergone this procedure, it’s brought to the forefront a renewed realization that this isn’t just something that happens to someone else, or something that you’re too young to have. Unfortunately, I think at some point our lives, or the lives of people we know, have sadly been touched by this form of cancer.
We owe it to ourselves to protect our health as best we can and early detection is so powerful in the fight against breast cancer. They say knowledge is power, so I wanted to share with you today some information and tips I found through the organization Bright Pink…
EARLY DETECTION IS EVERYTHING
Breast cancer symptoms can vary widely, from lumps to dimpling of the skin to changes in breast size, shape and color. It is important to get to know what is normal for your body and bring any changes that do not go away to your doctor’s attention.
What is Normal…
- Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and color
- Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling
If These Symptoms Don’t Go Away, See Your Doctor…
- A lump, which can feel like a frozen pea
- Swelling, soreness or rash
- Warmth, redness or darkening
- Change in size or shape of either breast
- Dimpling or prickling of the skin
- New pain in one spot that does not go away
- Persistent itching
- Bumps that resemble bug bites
When checking your breasts, be sure to check up to your collar bone, in to your breast bone, over to the sides and in your armpits. If you notice any changes, grab a journal, mark what the change is, where it is occurring on the breast and record the date.
Check back two weeks later and if it is still there or has become worse, visit a doctor you trust. Keep in mind that it does not mean you have cancer. In fact, 80% of breast lumps are not cancerous and there are a variety of reasons your body can develop changes. For example, breast tissue responds to our bodies’ normal hormones. That’s why some of us feel tenderness or lumpiness in our breasts around our periods. If a lump or change goes away after your period is over, chances are it’s nothing to worry about.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
- Limit your fat intake. Research shows a modest decrease in invasive breast cancer in women with a low–fat diet. Fill up on cancer–fighting foods like fruits and vegetables, and eat red meat sparingly.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. There’s a clear link between obesity and breast cancer due to the excess estrogen production in fatty tissue.
- Make exercise a part of your daily life. Regular exercise for 30 minutes or more on most days can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.
- Cut back on cocktails. There seems to be some link between alcohol and breast cancer, although scientists don’t really know how strong.
- Don’t smoke. While there is limited research that suggests smoking cigarettes may be linked to breast and ovarian cancer, there is a direct link between tobacco use and many other cancers (not just lung or other oral cancers).
Research has shown that certain foods can actually help decrease your risk of developing cancer. These cancer-fighting foods are not only nutritious, they are usually inexpensive and a natural way to take action and manage your health.
- Vitamin A: Researchers have found that this powerful vitamin can actually reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in those who have a family history of the disease. Carrots, sweet potatoes, dried herbs, and leafy greens are all rich
in vitamin A.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is known to help reduce the incidence of breast and ovarian cancer by slowing the growth of cancer cells.The best way to get more vitamin D in your diet is by eating fatty fish (such as salmon), but it can also be found in milk, fortified cereal, orange juiceand eggs.
- Fiber: This nutrient found in whole grain, flax, certain cereals, beans and vegetables has been shown to reduce estrogen levels, which in turn can slow the growth of cancer cells in the breasts. When shopping, swap your white bread with whole grain bread, white rice with brown rice, and sugary cereal for a cereal rich in fiber and the vitamins listed above.
- Fruits and Vegetables: In general, fruits and vegetables carry the vitamins and nutrients that can help lower your risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Aim for at least five servings a day and try to include lots of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and dark, leafy greens like kale and spinach. To download a cancer fighting foods shopping list, just click here.
With more scientific evidence emerging, it’s clear that chemicals in our environment play a role in altering our biological processes. We now know that exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation are connected to our breast cancer risk.
Some risk factors for breast cancer, such as our family history, can’t be helped. But the good news is particular environmental factors are within our control. Get to know the chemicals that have been linked to breast cancer and learn what you can do to limit your exposure, thereby reducing your risk of breast cancer.
- Choose cleaning products and personal care products that fully disclose ingredients, including the components of fragrance. Synthetic fragrance can contain dozens of chemicals, such as phthalates and synthetic musks that disrupt the body’s hormones. (More details here)
- Select stainless steel or glass for drinking water to reduce exposure to BPA (a hormone disruptor) and replacements for BPA in plastic, many of which behave like estrogen. (More details here)
- Learn to read the labels of cosmetics and personal care products. This can help avoid synthetic chemicals (like those ending with -PEG and -eth) and ensure that companies who make claims of “organic” and “natural” really are organic and natural. (More details here)
I hope this little snapshot of information may help you take control of your health too. If you’d like to read more, the Bright Pink website is a great place to start.
Do you have regular doctor’s check-up’s for your health in general? This is something I want to get better at making the time to do.