October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

by Danniece Bobeche, MSN, WHNP 

"One out of eight women will have breast cancer in their lifetime. Unfortunately this statistic has not improved in many years despite advances in healthcare technology and research. There are 230,000 new cases diagnosed per year in the U.S. and nearly 40,000 will not survive. October is a month dedicated to support those who have survived breast cancer, honor those who have not, and remind us to take active steps toward early detection, the key to survival.

Having a mom or sister who’s had breast cancer does increase a woman’s risk. However, in the majority of new cases a woman has no family history of this devastating disease. I have had 3 dear friends who have survived breast cancer and none of them had a family history of breast cancer.

The number one risk factor for developing breast cancer is age; the risk increases with every birthday. Females are more at risk; one percent of breast cancer patients are male. Other risk factors are obesity, smoking and heavy alcohol consumption. Contributing factors include stress, Vitamin D deficiency, high fat diets (especially red meat), sedentary lifestyle, and exposure to free radicals (pesticides, pollution, toxic metals/chemicals including Bisphenol A (BPA), a toxin that seeps from plastics). Additionally women who received radiation treatments as children or were exposed to Diethylstilbestrol (DES) in utero, a treatment used between 1938 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage, are at higher risk. Women who have their first child in later years, those who have never had children, and those who started their period before the age of 12 or went into menopause after 55 are at higher risk. Synthetic hormones, especially the progestin component found in birth control pills and post-menopausal treatments, may also increase the risk. This is not the case with Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) as Europeans have been using natural progesterone replacement for years as breast cancer prevention and treatment.

The key to survival is early detection. The American College of Obstetricians and the American Cancer Society recommend annual mammograms beginning at 40, earlier screenings in higher risk patients. Some women delay mammogram screenings for various reasons, lack of insurance, fear of pain, afraid of diagnosis, misunderstanding of the radiation exposure. Mammograms can detect some tumors five years before they can be palpated. Mammograms are not painful and emit less radiation than what you might be exposed to walking in an urban area. When identified in early stages of development, breast cancer survival rate is 98%.

Susan G. Komen (www.komen.org) is a wonderful resource for information and support. American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org), National Institute of Health (www.nih.gov), MD Anderson (www.mdanderson.org), and the National Breast Cancer Foundation (www.nationalbreastcancer.org) are also excellent resources for information.

While we cannot alter our history or rethink our past decisions, we can take steps to improve our destiny. Eating more fruits and veggies, such as spinach, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, helps prevent carcinogenic effects on the breasts and other vital organs. Choose low fat options whenever possible, limit red meat, maintaining a healthy weight, plus lots of exercise and activity are proactive and easy options for decreasing our risk factors. Antioxidants such as Vitamins C & E, dark chocolate, red wine (in moderation), DIM supplement and Omega 3s help neutralize free radical damage. If you are a female over 40, make sure that you have an annual mammogram and encourage every female in your life to do the same. Do monthly self breast exams and have a clinical breast exam every year.

Honor those who have lost their lives to breast cancer. Love, support and cherish our brave survivors."

Danniece Bobeche, MSN, WHNP
Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner
Specializing in Women’s Wellness
5525 S. Staples, Suite B1
Corpus Christi, Texas 78411

Call today for immediate scheduling (361)985-0906

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