As many already know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I feel like breast cancer is one of those things that so many of us have had a personal brush with, whether it be family members, friends or even ourselves, it’s hard to find many who haven’t been touched by this prevalent disease. I remember getting a panicked phone call from a friend who found a lump in her breast. She was terrified, as was I, as she awaited her results. The thought of losing a friend or her going through such a tough battle at such a young age with two children, was eye opening and harrowing. Thankfully, she was found to be in good health, but this experience was enough to really make me think about the health and lifestyle choices I was making for myself and my family and how they could be increasing our risk for disease.
Currently, the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 12%. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer. Think about your 8 closest friends and family members and how it’s so extremely likely that someone will be affected by this disease. As a mother of young children, one of which is female, the thought of one of us being that 1 in 8 is somewhat terrifying. Despite the prevalence, there are many things to consider and do to help to reduce breast cancer risk.
Scientists, physicians, and community partners in the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP), which is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), study the effects of environmental exposures on breast cancer risk later in life. They created a mother-daughter toolkit mothers can use to talk to daughters about steps to take together to reduce risk.
4 Ways to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
1. Reduce Use of Products with Phthalates
I’ve found that many prior health and beauty products that I’ve used had some very questionable ingredients. As I’ve aged and especially with the birth of my children, I’ve taken to becoming a much more educated consumer and label reader when it comes to products that my family uses. Phthalates have been linked to increased risk to breast cancer, along with many other negative health effects. Phthalates are most often found in hard plastics, fragrances, personal care products (deodorants, lotions, diaper cream) so I’ve worked towards replacing those type of products with more natural options and ingredients.
2. Reduce Use of Products with BPA
I always search for products that explicit label BPA free. BPA is found in some cans, plastic bottles and containers. I’ve switched over most of our food storage to glass containers for this reason and it’s so much easier, neater and safer for our family (and better for the environment as well).
3. Make Healthy Choices
Simple changes in your lifestyle and eating habits can make a big difference. I try to eat more naturally sourced foods (less processing and more fresh options like fruits and veggies), lean proteins (less red meats that contain higher amounts of animal fat), and limit intake of butter/cream sauces. I’ve moved away from products with fragrance (items like air fresheners are a definite “no” in our home) and stick with fragrance free when possible, which everyones skin has benefitted from as well.
4. Live an Active Lifestyle
Aside from eating a healthy diet, we make exercise a priority. Our children have grown up seeing both parents run races, go to the gym or yoga studio daily, we take lots of walks together and get outside nearly every day. Since our children have grown up with this being a norm in our life, they too are incredibly active and they love it. It’s so important to set an example for your children and show them through your actions and choices how to have healthy habits and strive to lead healthy lives.
Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP), which is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is exploring whether exposure to certain chemicals and foods may change how girls’ bodies mature and impact breast cancer risk. If you could take this quick survey below, it would be immensely helpful to help with the important work the researchers are doing.
Take survey HERE! Those who take the survey are entered into a $100 Visa gift card (there are five winners)!
Have you been personally affected by breast cancer?