Putting that aside, the news is filled with breast cancer awareness articles. I've been reading many of them. The ones that draw my interest are regarding prevention and risk factors. I'm trying to find anything that puts me in an "at risk" category. I'd like to discover if there is anything more I could have done to prevent this disease. So far, I've found very few things.
- Regular physical activity: Other than during my pregnancies, I've always been active. I love to exercise!
- Maintain healthy weight: Yep.
- Moderate to no alcohol consumption: I've never been a big drinker. And I don't drink alcohol at all these days.
- Eat a healthy diet filled with fruits and veggies: I read cancer-prevention books and implemented cancer-preventing eating habits long before I got breast cancer.
- Avoid refined sugar: I love sweets! This is my weakness. Although I've tried to eliminate them, I often indulge, probably more than I should.
- Female: Yes, I am a woman. That's one risk factor.
- Old: No, I'm only 36.
- No pregnancies: I've had four (one miscarriage).
- First pregnancy at an older age: Hmmm, is 30 considered an older age? This is a possible risk factor.
- Not breastfeeding: One study indicated that those who breastfed more than 24 months were 60% less likely to develop breast cancer. I spent many, many months breastfeeding.
- Recent use of oral contraceptives: No.
- Menstrual cycle started before age 12: No.
- Abortions: None. Did you know having an abortion increases your risk of getting breast cancer by 242%?
- Smoking: Never. Risk increases by 196%
- Genetic factors: None. No family history. Genetic test came back negative.
My point is that no one is exempt. I don't bring this up to evoke fear. If God is on your side, breast cancer is not something to be feared. Neither is death for that matter. But cancer treatment is unpleasant, and by catching it early, one can prevent much of the unpleasantness. The most important thing is to know your body and to do regular self-exams. If you notice anything irregular, call your doctor!
Prostate cancer is to men as breast cancer is to women. 1 in 6 men will be affected by prostate cancer with almost 30,000 dying each year. Not nearly as much money and publicity goes into prostate cancer research and awareness. So for you men out there, get regular check-ups and PSA tests.