You should know this: Prevent breast cancer

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komenBreast cancer can be deadly. Many factors can influence your breast cancer risk, and most women (and men) who develop breast cancer do not have any known risk factors or a history of the disease in their families. Here’s how to lower your risk, as recommended:

  • Keep a healthy weight. Yes, it’s super hard. And the best way to do it is treat every extra pound as an enemy to be repelled right then. After all, just two pounds a year for 10 years is 20 pounds – a substantial weight gain that threatens our health. It’s better to tackle your weight every day so it’s only ever fluctuating by one or two pounds.  You need to check your BMI, regularly. To calculate BMI, find your height and weight in this BMI Index Chart:
      • If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the underweight range.
      • If your BMI is 18.5 to 24.9, it falls within the normal or Healthy Weight range.
      • If your BMI is 25.0 to 29.9, it falls within the overweight range.
      • If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the obese range.

      Weight that is higher than what is considered as a healthy weight for a given height is described as overweight or obese. Weight that is lower than what is considered as healthy for a given height is described as underweight.

  • Exercise regularly (at least four hours a week).
    • Work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent mix of the two each week. Strong scientific evidence shows that physical activity can help you maintain your weight over time. However, the exact amount of physical activity needed to do this is not clear since it varies greatly from person to person. It’s possible that you may need to do more than the equivalent of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to maintain your weight.
  • Get enough sleep.
    • The amount of sleep each person needs depends on many factors, including age. Infants generally require about 16 hours a day, while teenagers need about 9 hours on average. For most adults, 7 to 8 hours a night appears to be the best amount of sleep. Women in the first 3 months of pregnancy often need several more hours of sleep than usual. The amount of sleep a person needs also increases if he or she has been deprived of sleep in previous days. Getting too little sleep creates a “sleep debt,” which is much like being overdrawn at a bank. Eventually, your body will demand that the debt be repaid. We don’t seem to adapt to getting less sleep than we need; while we may get used to a sleep-depriving schedule, our judgment, reaction time, and other functions are still impaired.
    • Experts say that if you feel drowsy during the day, even during boring activities, you haven’t had enough sleep. If you routinely fall asleep within 5 minutes of lying down, you probably have severe sleep deprivation, possibly even a sleep disorder. Microsleeps, or very brief episodes of sleep in an otherwise awake person, are another mark of sleep deprivation. In many cases, people are not aware that they are experiencing microsleeps. The widespread practice of “burning the candle at both ends” in western industrialized societies has created so much sleep deprivation that what is really abnormal sleepiness is now almost the norm.
  • Don’t drink alcohol, or limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one per day.
    • Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast among women. The risk of breast cancer increases as alcohol use increases.
  • Avoid exposure to chemicals that can cause cancer (carcinogens).
    • Known carcinogens include lead, carbon monoxide and tobacco.
  • Try to reduce your exposure to radiation during medical tests like mammograms, X-rays, CT scans, and PET scans. In the case of x-rays or other tests involving exposure to ionizing radiation, doctors and radiation experts can help reduce your exposure to and risk of harm from diagnostic ionizing radiation by:
    • Checking to see if you have had a similar test done recently that can provide them with the background information they need.
    • Checking to see if a test that does not use ionizing radiation can provide similar information.
    • Estimating in advance the typical radiation dose for the test.
    • Estimating your exposure to radiation from the test.
    • Making certain the least possible amount of radiation is used for your procedure.
  • If you are taking, or have been told to take, hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives (birth control pills), ask your doctor about the risks and find out if it is right for you.
  • Breastfeed your babies, if possible.
    • Breastfeeding helps a mother’s health and healing following childbirth. Breastfeeding leads to a lower risk of these health problems in mothers:
      • Type 2 diabetes
      • Certain types of breast cancer
      • Ovarian cancer

Although breast cancer screening cannot prevent breast cancer, it can help find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat. Talk to your doctor about which breast cancer screening tests are right for you, and when you should have them.

If you have a family history of breast cancer or inherited changes in your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, you may have a higher breast cancer risk. Talk to your doctor about these ways of reducing your risk—

  • Antiestrogens or other medicines that block or decrease estrogen in your body.
  • Surgery to reduce your risk of breast cancer
    • Prophylactic (preventive) mastectomy (removal of breast tissue).
    • Prophylactic (preventive) salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes).

REMEMBER: Men can get breast cancer too!

  • The following types of breast cancer are found in men:

    • Infiltrating ductal carcinoma: Cancer that has spread beyond the cells lining ducts in the breast. Most men with breast cancer have this type of cancer.
    • Ductal carcinoma in situ: Abnormal cells that are found in the lining of a duct; also called intraductal carcinoma.
    • Inflammatory breast cancer: A type of cancer in which the breast looks red and swollen and feels warm.
    • Paget disease of the nipple: A tumor that has grown from ducts beneath the nippleonto the surface of the nipple.

    Lobular carcinoma in situ (abnormal cells found in one of the lobes or sections of the breast), which sometimes occurs in women, has not been seen in men.

  • The following tests and procedures may be used to treat breast cancer in men:

    • Physical exam and history : An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
    • Clinical breast exam (CBE): An exam of the breast by a doctor or other health professional. The doctor will carefully feel the breasts and under the arms for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.
    • Ultrasound exam: A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram. The picture can be printed to be looked at later.
    • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).
    • Blood chemistry studies : A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs and tissues in the body. An unusual (higher or lower than normal) amount of a substance can be a sign of disease in the organ or tissue that makes it.
    • Biopsy : The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by apathologist to check for signs of cancer. The following are different types of biopsies:
      • Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy : The removal of tissue or fluid using a thin needle.
      • Core biopsy : The removal of tissue using a wide needle.
      • Excisional biopsy : The removal of an entire lump of tissue.

It is important that you know your family history and talk to your doctor about screening and other ways you can lower your risk.