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Your 2017 breast health guide
Avril Harry RN, BSc Oncology Nursing Pink Hibiscus Breast Health Specialist
As we start this New Year, I’m most certain that many of us having made New Year resolution, developing good health would have likely made the first five on your list. In that, a healthy lifestyle has overall benefits for your well-being. Furthermore, as a breast specialist centre we highly recommend that women ages 20 and over factor in your breast health as part of your New Year’s resolutions.
The data we have at this time suggests that approximately 85 per cent of all breast cancer cases are caused by factors other than heredity, such as environmental toxins, bad eating habits, and stress. With this important statistic in mind we all know that our bodies change as we get older. What might work for a 30 year old might not be as suitable for a 60 year old and vice versa, hence the importance of seeking an initial assessment from your breast specialist centre to ascertain your individual needs.
Women under 40
Recent studies indicate that the number of under 40 year olds diagnosed with aggressive forms of breast cancer has been steadily increasing for the last four decades, and that this rise is largely due to preventable factors. In fact, according to statistics provided in a recent study, a large majority of cancers are due to bad diet and the accumulation of toxins. We therefore recommend that women under age 40 develop healthy eating habits. Even those who may have developed some bad habits in your 20s like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, this is a good time to make the necessary adjustments as there are innumerable benefits long term. Some worthwhile heath adjustments include but are not limited to cutting back on sugar, increased consumption of green leafy vegetables and healthy fats, and lowering your consumption of alcohol. Oral contraceptive should be used under the strict guidance of your gynaecologist. Other healthy lifestyle habits that can be adopted include getting into a self-nurturing routine that includes stress-reduction techniques such as meditation and some form of exercise. These practices will help pull your system out of fight-or-flight mode and into a more peaceful state of mind. It is integral to commence breast self-examinations at age 20 and continue throughout one’s life span.
Women 40 and over
Most women between 40 and 59 years of age experience significant changes in their physical body as well as mentally and emotionally. These changes can sometimes be a bit unsettling for most women and sometimes the men in their lives. Knowledge really is the key to embracing the “change of life” that the 40s and 50s represent. As a result, it is therefore imperative that you have this knowledge and be aware of specific information as it relates to your unique body system. At this juncture, comprehensive breast screening is advised, which consists of a clinical breast examination, digital mammogram and ultrasound. It is also suggested that you develop a good relationship with your gynaecologist as your reproductive health does have an impact on your breast health as well. As the peri-menopausal phase sets in there is a way to gracefully transition to the next stage of life. For those who find the symptoms associated with menopause unbearable we suggest speaking with your gynaecologist especially if you’re considering the use of hormone replacement. Equally important, there are some diet and supplementation adjustments that may also be necessary at this phase, such as an increase in calcium for optimum bone health. We recommend you keep physically active.
For women in their 60s and beyond, it is important to note that the majority of breast cancers occur in women over 65. Though an unpleasant statistic, comprehensive breast screening should continue or as stipulated by your breast specialist.
Wherever you are on the path of life, there are specific actions you can do NOW to prevent breast cancer and live a vibrant, health-filled and balanced life. Whatever your age…now is the time to make that happen!