October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s an annual campaign to raise awareness of the impact of breast cancer. At Flourish, it’s our opportunity to make you aware of the breast cancer rates, risk factors, prevention steps, early detection methods, and to educate you on the risks for screening. Let’s begin with the current data on the impact of breast cancer in America.
BREAST CANCER FACTS
- Breast cancer is in second place as the cause of cancer-related deaths and increasing at a rate of 0.5% diagnosis per year.
- New cases each year are at 129.7 per 100,000 women (as of 2019). That is triple the number of next leading new cancer cases.
- In 2016, 4-6% of women diagnosed were under 45 years of age. In 2020 that number nearly doubled to 11% of cases being women under age 45.
- Good news… 93% of patients experience a 5-year or greater survival rate when detected early.
EARLY DETECTION & SCREENING GUIDELINES
The current methods of early detection and breast cancer screening are flawed. Some detection methods are not effective and cause unnecessary fear and stress. And although there are risks with obtaining mammograms at a young age, for young women, early detection is needed. We are seeing cancer rates rise in younger age groups. While 3D offers a clearer picture, is more accurate, and the new standard for screening – the cost is not always covered by medical insurance plans and the levels of radiation are much higher. The 2D traditional method is known for high rates of false positives and false negatives. It also causes radiation exposure, thus, making it ineffective screening method. Another option is thermography. This method uses an infrared camera to detect heat and blood flow. Thermography is free from health risks, is best for dense breast tissue cancer detection, and for those under 50 years of age. The cost for the screening is around $150-200 dollars.
Unfortunately, it can take years for screening recommendations to change. We are seeing a rise in breast cancer rates in young women, but screening recommendations are not reflecting that. Breast self-exams and thermography may be the best options. A helpful resource can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines>>
RISK FACTORS (YOU CANNOT CONTROL)
Individuals who carry a mutation in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene have a condition called Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) syndrome, which is associated with an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer by age 70.
Having Dense Breasts
Dense breasts have more connective tissue than fatty tissue which can sometimes make it hard to see tumors on a mammogram.
Family History of Breast or Ovarian Cancer
A woman’s risk for breast cancer is higher if she has a mother, sister, or daughter, or multiple family members on either her mother’s or father’s side of the family who have had breast or ovarian cancer.
Previous treatment using radiation therapy
Women who had radiation therapy to the chest or breasts, for instance treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, before age 30 have a higher risk of getting breast cancer later in life.
Exposure to the drug Diethylstilbestrol (DES)
DES was given to some pregnant women in the United States between 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage. Women who took DES, or whose mothers took DES while pregnant with them, have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
8 RISK FACTORS YOU CAN CONTROL
- Not being physically active.
- Being overweight or having obesity after menopause.
- Taking hormones: Synthetic hormone replacement therapy taken during menopause can raise risk for breast cancer when taken for more than five years. Certain oral contraceptives (birth control pills) also have been found to raise breast cancer risk.
- Reproductive history: Having the first pregnancy after age 30, not breastfeeding, and never having a full-term pregnancy, can raise breast cancer risk.
- Drinking alcohol
- Being exposed to chemicals and toxins that can cause cancer.
- Change in hormones due to night shift working.
- Do not smoke
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Consume alcohol in moderation
- Avoid a night shift work schedule
- Avoid BPA (toxin) found in plastics, make-up, laundry detergent, sunscreen, and receipts.
- Avoid synthetic hormones and oral contraceptives
- Seek bioidentical hormone replacement therapy vs. synthetic treatments
“There is not a perfect way to detect breast cancer early without increasing risk; that’s why prevention is so important. We suggest regular exercise, eating organic foods, avoid and reduce toxins, conduct self-exams, and know your body. Listen to your intuition, and if you think something is wrong – visit your doctor.” – Jackie Tewes
At Flourish Medical + Wellness, we emphasize the importance of optimizing God’s design of the human body to provide natural healing and protection. Our individualized medical care will allow you to strengthen your body and enable it to function exactly how it was made to. We strive toward wholeness: being well in mind, body, and spirit. Contact us with your health concerns and schedule and appointment.