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Self-Care Helps Prevent Breast Cancer

Listen up ladies. Breast cancer is still the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women, accounting for almost one in three (30%) newly diagnosed cancers. One in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

We take care of our bodies and our appearance, but did you know you should take care of your breasts? A simple first step is just paying attention. Know what’s normal for your breasts. If you notice discharge or even the tiniest lump, talk to your provider right away.

It’s also important to know your personal risk factors. Start with your family history. Your risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if you have a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Other risk factors to keep on your radar include dense breasts, genetic mutations, reproductive history, personal and family history of other cancers, previous radiation therapy and simply getting older.

Talk about your provider about your personal risk factors and mammogram screening recommendations, as they vary depending on age and risk. Early detection remains your best defense against breast cancer. The five-year survival rate for localized breast cancer is 99%.

CHI St. Alexius Health is making self-care a treat by hosting a Mammos & Mimosas event Saturday, October 23 from 8 am to 12 pm at 1301 15th Ave West in Williston. Enjoy complimentary hors d’ ouvers and a non-alcoholic mimosa while getting your mammogram. It’s by appointment only. Call 701.774.7435 to schedule. Facemasks and social distancing precautions will be followed.

Did you know you can take action - even before your first mammogram - to reduce your risk? The Centers of Disease Control have identified the following risk factors for breast cancer: 

  • Physical activity. Women who are not physically active have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
  • Weight. Older women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those at a normal weight.
  • Alcohol consumption. Studies show that a woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks.
  • Hormone medications. Some forms of hormone replacement therapy (those that include both estrogen and progesterone) taken during menopause can raise risk for breast cancer when taken for more than five years. Certain oral contraceptives (birth control pills) also have been found to raise breast cancer risk.
  • Reproductive history. Having a first pregnancy after age 30, not breastfeeding, and never having a full-term pregnancy can raise breast cancer risk.

The additional steps you take today - getting more physical activity, managing your weight, drinking less alcohol, even choosing to breastfeed your baby - can help reduce your breast cancer risk and improve your overall health.

Heather Hass, MSN, CNM, WHNP-BC
Williston Medical Center