Breast cancer awareness: Prevent, fight, defeat

As fall comes quickly upon us, we are reminded of a very important month that represents more than just the changing of seasons and colors. The month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every year we gather to remember those who fought, survived, and passed with the battle of breast cancer.  So, what can we do to prevent another life taken by a disease that can be treated with early detection? The first step to a healthy breast is to know about the risk factors associated with breast cancer. One of the most important risk factors of breast cancer is age. According to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, it is recommended that a woman receive a clinical breast exam every one-three years through ages 25 to 39. Once 40 years old, a clinical breast exam is recommended yearly.  As women get older, their risks of developing breast cancer increases, so knowing when to start your scheduled breast exams and mammograms are important.

Knowing your personal risks and when to start mammogram screenings is a very resourceful way to reduce your chances of developing breast cancer. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast, which is currently the best way to detect breast cancer in its early stages before symptoms arise. Finding breast cancer early with a mammogram reduces your risk of dying from the disease by 25-30 percent. Modern-day mammograms only emit a small amount of radiation, which is less than a chest X-ray. The American Cancer Society recommends women with an average risk of breast cancer should begin yearly mammograms at age 45. Even at the age of 40, women are able to receive yearly mammograms—be sure to talk to your primary care provider about your risks and when you should get screened. Starting at the age 55, women should have mammograms every other year. Women who still want yearly mammograms (especially those at a higher risk) should still be able to do so. Women who are breastfeeding are also able to get mammograms with no shown negative affects to their breastmilk and babies. You can find a list of more risk factors at

Although there are some risk factors that you cannot control, like age or family history, there are others that you can reduce every single day. Physical activity has shown to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, as well as maintaining a healthy weight before and after menopause. Drinking alcohol and smoking also creates an increased risk for breast cancer. The most important action you can take for your health is to always get routinely screened and checked by your primary care provider. Discuss your family history with him or her to come up with the best plan for you to stay ahead of the diagnosis and live the healthiest lifestyle that you can.

If you have any questions or for more information on resources, where to get screened and financial challenges, please contact Morgann Box with Shining Mountain Health and Wellness at (970)-563-2349.



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