Tag Archives: breast cancer

Breast Cancer – Lifestyle Risks, What Are They? – Jill Sung

28 Oct

It’s almost Halloween, and I can’t think of anything scary to wear. Let me know if you have any suggestions so I’m not staring into my closet considering re-using a costume! But, I was thinking that scarier than horror movies and something that I can’t yet understand how scary it is, is finding out that I have cancer. I can’t imagine how I would deal with it, and really respect all the people who’ve received that news, and their families who have helped them deal with it.

Since this is still breast cancer awareness month, I thought I’d focus on what are the preventable things one can do to decrease their chance for breast cancer.

What you intake…

  • Alcohol – Breast Cancer risk increases with the amount of alcohol one drinks. 2-5 drinks a day increases your risk of breast cancer by 1.5 times (it can also increase the risk of mouth, throat, liver, and esophageal cancer). 1 drink a day slightly increases your risk…this is all compared to those who drink no alcohol.
  • Oral Contraceptives – usage is associated with a slightly higher risk, but this risk declines once usage is stopped. 10 years after stopping, you’re back to the same risk as if you never took oral contraceptives. But be sure to weigh your risks and benefits before deciding to stop or start.
  • Hormone Therapy – use is related to an increased risk, even if just for a few years. Talk to your doctor about post-menopause hormone therapy risks and benefits especially as it relates to osteoporosis, stroke and heart disease.

Things you do…

  • Physical Activity – Even as little as 1.25 to 2.5 hours of brisk walking a week, decreases your chance of breast cancer by about 18% (shown in the Women’s Health Initiative research). More hours is even better.
  • Being Overweight – is associated with a higher breast cancer risk, especially after menopause. After menopause, your ovaries decrease estrogen production, but your fat cells continue…And where your fat cells are located (waist is worse than hips) affects your risk.
  • Pregnancy – early and many decreases your risk…but sometimes, this just can’t be helped!

Tobacco smoke, environmental toxins, diet, and vitamin intake still need better research or are still controversial, so I’ll leave those alone for now. Thanks to the American Cancer Society for this great information! I hope you and your children all have a safe and fun Halloween!

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Breast Cancer – What do I need to know? – Jill Sung

12 Oct

Breast Exam: Anatomy

It’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month! And besides knowing that I need to do self exams and that JUARA is donating funds from sales for this important issue

Some Diagnosis Tips: Self Exam

If you’re 20 years old and above, it’s good to start self-examining now. The most common signs of breast cancer are below, however, we should keep in mind that not all lumps or changes mean one has breast cancer…these are just common signs to watch for – if found, go to your doctor. An easy self-exam video: Breast Cancer Self-Exam Video

  • a lump in the breast
  • abnormal thickening of the breast, or
  • a change in the shape, size, or color of the breast
  • less common but also signs
    • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
    • Swelling, redness or warmth that does not go away
    • Pain in one spot that does not vary with your monthly cycle
    • Pulling in of the nipple
    • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly and appears only in one breast
    • An itchy, sore or scaling area on one nipple
Should I  get a Mammogram?

The rules I’ve learned are that one should receive mammograms once a year at age 40 and beyond. But this past November 2009, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (and pay attention ladies, because this may affect insurance coverage) stated that women with an average chance of breast cancer should receive biennial mammograms between the age of 50 and 74. (If you have a greater chance because a family member had breast cancer or have clinical signs, etc. you should consult your doctor and discuss the best preventive practice.) For women between the age of 40 and 49, the USPSTF recommended against annual screenings because of the risk of radiation exposure, false-positive/negative results, overdiagnosis, pain during procedures, and anxiety, distress…Despite these rulings, many of the organizations that support breast cancer awareness are still evaluating the decision of when to start preventive mammogram screenings. So please keep in mind that you should, with the help of your physician, assess your risk for breast cancer and be preventive accordingly. (Interestingly, the USPSTF also recommended against breast self-exam…but the jury was out on self-exam by supporting organizations as well).

I think that’s it for now, we’ll talk more about the risks, etc. next time. How many of you out there do yearly self-exams? Why? Any tips?