You might have noticed an uptick in the number of people wearing pink clothes, bracelets, and customized silicone wristbands. That’s because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While the more common symbol for the cause is a pink ribbon, the color pink is generally regarded as a way of showing your support for women who suffer from breast cancer. In the spirit of the movement, you may want to learn about some of the factors that could increase your own chances of developing the condition. In this article, we’ll discuss a few questions you can ask yourself:
Did your menstrual cycle start early or late?
Menstruation normally begins at the age of 12. However, if you started menstruating much earlier than that, then you are more likely to develop the condition. This may be because you are exposed to two critical hormones—estrogen and progesterone—for a much longer period of time. The same thing applies to women who have menstrual cycles that started later in life, and for women who experienced menopause over the age of 55.
Do you use birth control?
Research shows that women who regularly use birth control pills also have a higher likelihood of developing the disease, compared to those who do not. Studies also show that stopping the pills reduces your risk back to normal after some amount of time. However, your risk level does not increase if you ceased to use the pills more than a decade ago.
Do you get a lot of physical activity?
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If you do not get a lot of exercise, then you have higher chances of developing this condition. The American Cancer Society recommends that you get at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise every week in order to lower your risks.
Are you overweight?
If you are currently going through menopause, being overweight can make you more vulnerable to developing breast cancer. This is because fat tissues can also produce estrogen. Thus, having more fat tissue after menopause can cause the amount of estrogen in your body to rise, increasing your risks for the disease.
Do you drink a lot of alcohol?
Alcohol has been linked to a number of illnesses, and unfortunately, breast cancer is one of them. Research shows that the risk for women who drink at least two to five alcoholic drinks per day is one and a half times higher than women who are sober. To lower your chances of developing breast cancer, you shouldn’t have more than one alcoholic drink a day.
Should you suspect that you might be at risk, reach out to a cancer awareness group or organization as soon as possible. You may also want to get yourself an examination, as they may be able to detect tumors that breast self-exams cannot. In many cases, detecting breast cancer as early as possible greatly improves survival rates. More importantly, don’t lose hope, and make sure that you surround yourself with friends and family who will support you no matter what.