By Shelly Harris
BScn CCRN Rn-C
As the vibrant leaves of October fall and transform our surroundings into a sea of warm hues, it also marks the onset of an equally significant transformation – Canadian Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This October, let us unite in the fight against breast cancer, empower ourselves with knowledge, and take meaningful actions to protect our health and the health of our loved ones. As a nurse and a passionate advocate for breast cancer awareness, I’m honored to share with you insights and suggestions on how to prevent this disease.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women, with one in eight women expected to be diagnosed in their lifetime. This statistic underscores the urgency of raising awareness and taking preventive measures. While certain risk factors like age, genetics, and family history cannot be controlled, individuals can make numerous lifestyle choices to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer.
You should try maintaining a Healthy Weight as obesity has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women. Aim for a balanced diet and regular exercise to help maintain a healthy weight.
Studies have shown a clear correlation between alcohol consumption and an elevated risk of breast cancer. If you drink, do so in moderation or abstaining altogether.
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help reduce your risk. Antioxidants and nutrients in these foods are crucial in maintaining breast health. Along with a healthy diet, we should engage in regular physical activity that helps maintain a healthy weight and directly reduces breast cancer risk. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
Many new screening methods are available to today’s women; DNA testing and understanding your family’s medical history can help you and your healthcare provider assess your risk more accurately. You may need more frequent screenings if you have a family history of breast cancer.
But as with many diseases, early detection is vital to more favourable outcomes. Try to perform regular breast self-exams, and if you are of the recommended age, get regular mammograms as your healthcare provider advises.
In addition to these proactive steps, October is an ideal time to support organizations dedicated to breast cancer research, support, and education. Consider donating to the Canadian Cancer Society or other reputable breast cancer charities. Your contribution can help fund vital research, support those affected by breast cancer, and raise awareness in your community.
Breast cancer awareness isn’t confined to one month, but October provides a dedicated platform to emphasize the importance of early detection, prevention, and support for those impacted by this disease. By making informed choices and supporting organizations like the Canadian Cancer Society, we can all play a role in reducing the impact of breast cancer on individuals and families across Canada.
Let this October serve as a reminder that our collective actions can make a difference. Together, we can turn the leaves of change towards a brighter, healthier future for everyone.