The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group of Santa Rosa is helping to empower women during October by participating in Breast Cancer Awareness Month and sharing a few facts about the disease.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual event aimed at increasing awareness of the disease. Knowing the facts about breast cancer can help women to not only take the necessary steps to detect the disease in its early stages, but to also make lifestyle changes that are most likely to reduce the odds of developing the disease in the first place. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, second only to skin cancer. Today millions of women are surviving the disease thanks in part to early detection, improvements in treatment and by making healthy lifestyle choices.
The First Step in Staying Healthy
Routine breast exams and general awareness of how to maintain breast health are important elements in living a healthy lifestyle. The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group recommends routine screening methods such as regular self-breast exams, breast checks during annual gynecologic exams, and screening mammography – all known approaches that can help to detect breast problems early-on. Early treatment of breast problems can contribute to the long term success of any treatment that is needed.
Factors that Increase Breast Cancer Risk:
It’s good to know that most women who have one or more breast cancer risk factor in their lives never actually develop the disease. But when there is increased awareness about the risk associated with some factors – particularly those that revolve around lifestyle choices – that knowledge can only serve to empower women to make better choices.
Some risk factors such as age, genetics or race cannot be changed. Other factors, such as those found in the environment, can also be difficult to alter. While some factors influence risk more than others, a person’s risk for developing breast cancer can change naturally – by increasing or decreasing risk – over time primarily due to aging and lifestyle changes.
According to the American Cancer Society there are several factors that can weigh in on a woman’s breast cancer risks including:
• Having children after age 30 –has shown to increase the risk of breast cancer in some.
• Birth Control – oral and injectable contraceptives stand out in studies as contributors to breast cancer.
• Alcohol consumption – the link between alcohol use and breast cancer is particularly strong in studies. The more consumed, the higher the risk.
• Weight – women who are obese or overweight seem to have an increased level of risk for developing breast cancer, primarily due to the higher insulin levels that accompany obesity.
Known Factors that Lower Risk:
Researchers continue to search for a link between diet and breast cancer risk and although results are often conflicting many studies indicate that diet may play a role. One recent study found a higher risk of breast cancer among women who consumed more red meat. Another indicator of increased risk is a high-fat diet, which can lead to weight gain or obesity, which is a known breast cancer risk factor.
Other known or suspected factors for lowering the risk of breast cancer include;
• Breast Feeding – for women who breast feed for 1.5 to 2 years studies suggest that there may be some benefit in reducing breast cancer risk
• Physical Activity – a growing body of evidence indicates that a person’s risk of developing almost any cancer, particularly breast cancer is reduced in those who adopt a routine of physical activity. A daily routine of just under 1.5 hours is optimal while as little as 1.25 per week may reduce the risk by up to 18% according to some studies.
How OB/GYN Providers can help
Self-check breast exams are easy to perform in the home and should be conducted monthly in addition to annual breast exams with a physician at Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group. Depending on a patient’s age and individual health, the physician may recommend a more frequent interval of regular check-ups with a health care provider.
We recommend that patients who suspect a breast health problem contact a provider immediately. The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group strives to better the lives of all women with a holistic approach to women’s health. To learn more visit our website or to call for an appointment dial (707) 579-1102.