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Be ready to battle breast cancer

While doctors search for better ways to fight breast cancer with improved detection methods and treatments, they also continue to seek ways to prevent the disease. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Perhaps this may serve as a reminder for you to get your annual mammogram and to increase your knowledge of breast health.

Cancer is a general term for more than 100 diseases in which abnormal cells multiply uncontrollably. Breast cancer, in particular, is a term for several cancers that begin in the breast. The most common form of breast cancer is called ductal carcinoma and begins in the lining of the ducts.

In the United States, breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in women. The good news is that with early detection and treatment, the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer will be alive and well more than five years after their diagnosis.

Some risk factors for breast cancer are at present uncontrollable. This includes certain genes that account for about 10 percent of breast cancer cases. Lifestyle risks are not totally understood nor are studies conclusive. However, by adopting the following healthy lifestyle habits, you will be doing the best you can to prevent breast cancer, as well as to lower your risk of other cancers, heart disease, and a wide range of other serious conditions.

  • Avoid tobacco products, or if you use them now, quit today. Maintain a healthy body weight.

  • Eat a well-balanced diet with no more than 30 percent of your total calories from fat. Include lots of whole grains, vegetables and fruit.

  • Get plenty of exercise. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days a week. Walking is a great all-around activity. Practice stress management - your emotions can affect your physical health.

  • Get enough sleep each night. Sleep helps to recharge your immune system as well as give you the energy for each day.

  • Do your monthly breast self-exams on time, and schedule regular health checkups as well. Develop your 3-part program for breast care including monthly breast self-exams, plus clinical breast exams and mammograms on schedule.

  • Learn about medical conditions that you may have or be at risk for developing. Control chronic health conditions.

  • Limit alcohol intake if you drink at all. Alcohol usage increases the risk for developing several types of cancer, including breast cancer.

  • Carefully discuss hormone replacement therapy with your doctor. Long-term use of hormone replacement therapy after menopause may increase breast cancer risk.

    Your best defense in the fight against breast cancer is following a healthy lifestyle and to develop and follow an early detection plan.

    Web posted on Thursday, October 19, 2006

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