Breast Cancer Awareness Month - October

Posted by Molly Riedel on October 06, 2021

It’s October, and that means the color pink will start appearing everywhere – and for good reason. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an international health campaign promoting prevention, diagnosis, treatments and cures. Here are four ways to make the most of this important month.

Be Aware

This month starts with just being informed. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, about 1 in 8 women in America will experience breast cancer during their lifetime. While men can get breast cancer too, it is much more common in women, with women over 50 being most at risk. That said, about 11% of all new cases of breast cancer are found in women younger than 45. 

Check your health

This month is also a good reminder for women to check in with themselves, as there many uncontrollable genetic factors that can put them at risk:

  • Gender: Women are 100 times more likely to develop breast cancer than men.
  • Age: Two out of three women are diagnosed after age 55.
  • A family history of breast cancer can put individuals more at risk.
  • Early menstruation or late menopause. Breast cancer is also associated with early menstruation (before age 12) and late menopause (after age 55).

Further, if they haven’t done so already, October is also a good time to get in the habit of having regular breast exams. A mammogram – the screening test for breast cancer – can help find breast cancer early when it’s easier to treat. In addition, one of the first lines of defense against breast cancer is being vigilant with self-exams. Experts recommend checking breasts every month both visually and by touch, paying attention to any changes in how the breast or nipple looks or feels.

Improve your lifestyle

During this month, another proactive step is to make changes in your lifestyle that can both improve your health and reduce your risk of cancer and other disease and health issues. This is called lifestyle medicine, and it involves addressing nutrition, physical activity, and chronic stress in order to live healthier. 

To help prevent breast cancer:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer, especially after menopause. 
  • Stay physically active. orgreports that exercising at a moderate or intense level for four to seven hours per week can lower the risk of breast cancer. 
  • Do not smoke. Smoking is linked to a number of diseases, including breast cancer in younger, premenopausal women. 
  • Watch your diet. Eating too much saturated fat and not enough fruits and vegetables increases risk. 
  • Cut back on alcohol. Also according to org, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer, compared to women who don’t drink at all.

Spread the word

Lastly, an important thing to do during Breast Cancer Awareness Month is simply raise awareness. Most people can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early. Talk to others about risk factors and lifestyle changes. Encourage your loved ones to get regular exams. Reach out to a loved one who is experiencing breast cancer and lend your support. And, join local events and races that raise money and create even more awareness. 

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers found in women. During October and every month, take steps to stay healthy. Everything you do counts. 

Justin is the Lifestyle Medicine Coordinator at the Glendale Sports Center managed by the YMCA of Metro Denver. He has worked in the fitness industry since 2015 and received his BS and MS in exercise physiology from Western Kentucky University. He joined the Denver YMCA in 2019 after moving from Bowling Green, KY. 

https://www.denverymca.org/blog/4-things-do-during-national-breast-cancer-awareness-month?gclid=CjwKCAjw7--KBhAMEiwAxfpkWAiE4IBHm9MDPysgsiwjFQlOMM_puXYmGW3wz6ieemxjcM-iRn_EChoC8zAQAvD_BwE

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