With October upon us, there is pink literally everywhere, all in promotion of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The entire month is one in which countless organizations, businesses, and charities across the country work to raise awareness of what the Centers for Disease Control cites as the most common cancer among women in the United States. A common theme seen and heard during the month is on detection by examination (either by the individual performing self-examinations, or by the common screening methods used in a Physician’s office), but equally important during this month of raising awareness is the need for, and an effort and focus on, cancer prevention.
According to the Genetics Home Reference website, only an estimated 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers are hereditary, meaning that 90 to 95 percent of all breast cancers are caused by non-genetic factors. Put another way, 90 to 95 percent of all breast cancers are caused by a combination of environmental factors and how our body internalizes them.
What does this mean? It means that people can empower themselves to take an active role on a daily basis in minimizing their risk of developing breast cancer. Some simple things that can be done daily to significantly reduce this risk include:
– Eat organic fruits and vegetables and avoid mass-produced, processed food that involves the use of pesticides or contains preservatives of any kind.
– Exercise regularly to keep the body oxygenated, and more importantly, to maintain a healthy body weight. According to the American Cancer Society, obesity contributes to as much as 20% of cancer deaths. In women, obesity affects estrogen levels, which can encourage breast cancer growth.
– Nurture your immune system by reducing stress, which can drag down your immune system’s ability to protect the body.
In working toward reducing the occurrence of cancer in our society, it’s up to each of us as individuals to make better decisions. When considering donating to charities that work to cure cancer, look for those that include substantive information about their activities in the areas of prevention and prevention education, not just detection. Cancer detection is much needed for existing cancer, but if we are truly to eradicate cancer, the focus needs to include those things that contribute to causing cancer in the first place.