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Breast Cancer Awareness Month October Pink Ribbons Breast Exams

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Last updated 10/12/2021

Here in WI leaves are changing colors and falling from the trees. Temperatures are getting cooler. Most importantly this time of year is October and Pink Ribbons.

It’s the season when pink ribbons and other pink items are abundant. They are for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month here in the US. Furthermore there are a number of fund raisers to participate in. So remind your BFF to do a self-exam and schedule that mammogram (if she hasn’t already).

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What is Breast Cancer Awareness?

Let’s take a glance at how it all started.

October and Pink Ribbon Roots

It began in 1985 as a partnership connecting the American Cancer Society with the pharmaceutical part of the Imperial Chemical Industries. In addition Betty Ford a survivor of breast cancer was there to assist the weeklong event.

While her husband, Gerald Ford, was the United States President, she was diagnosed. This in turn added more attention to breast cancer.

October and Pink Ribbon Goal

At the launch the goal of breast cancer awareness month was aimed at educating women about breast cancer. As well as providing early detection test to be in control of their breast health. Above all the major goal was in promoting mammograms as the main tool to utilize in the breast cancer fight.

So during the month of October we celebrate and encourage the breast cancer survivors and others with breast cancer to tell their stories. It is the time to acknowledge men and women whose lives have been modified by breast cancer. Moreover there are fund raisers for breast cancer research and other related subjects.

October and Pink Ribbons

As for the pink ribbon Evelyn H. Lauder (Estee Lauder cosmetics) helped create the pink ribbon in 1992. The beauty company handed out an impressive 1.5 million. Thus introducing this visual reminder.

She recognized an immediate demand to spotlight this worldwide health issue. Furthermore she revealed the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. After that the pink ribbon became the symbol for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

During that time breast cancer was still considered a taboo subject. For those dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis and having treatment little was discussed. In addition not understanding the care required.

Breast Anatomy

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Your breast (aka mammary glands) consists of mainly fat cells (adipose tissue). Located at the collarbone across the underarm centering with your ribcage. The breast contains overlying tissue on the chest (pectoralis muscles). Further how much fat you have in your breast determines its size.

Within the breast are 15 to 20 sections, known as lobes. These are divided into smaller areas called lobules (resemble bunches of grapes) and this is where milk is made. In short milk travels by a path of tiny tubes known as ducts. And unfortunately lobules and ducts are usually where cancer will form.

As these ducts link and join with larger ducts, they eventually exit through the skin of your nipple. That is to say the darker area of skin bordering the nipple is the areola.

Your breast contains tissue and ligaments. These provide support as well as its shape. Sensation of the breast is through the nerves. In conclusion you will discover blood vessels, lymph vessels and lymph nodes.

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

According to studies your risk for breast cancer can be a combination of factors. Mainly just being a woman and aging is a big influence. Most importantly breast cancer is diagnosed in women 50 or older.

And you may not be aware of having any other risk factors and get breast cancer. As well as having a risk factor doesn’t necessarily mean you will be diagnosed with the disease.  Above all consult your doctor if you have breast cancer risk factors, for steps to reduce your risk and screenings.

Risk Factors that can’t be changed

Age

Ah if we only could avoid aging huh? Breast cancer risk is higher as we get older. For instance most women are diagnosed after age 50.

Inherited Genes

According to the CDC if you inherit certain genes; BRCA1 and BRCA2 this increases your risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

Reproductive History

Two situations raising your risk that exposed you to these hormones longer:

  • Starting your menstrual cycle before turning 12
  • Entering menopause later than age 55

Dense Breast

Recall I told you about the risk in another blog. If you haven’t already, question your doctor or mammogram technician on your breast tissue.  Further because of more connective tissue it’s difficult to spot tumors.

Personal History

You already had breast cancer once or specific non-cancerous diseases of the breast. This fashions you more likely to be diagnosed a second time. Most importantly atypical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ is linked to an increase for getting breast cancer.

Family History

You’re at higher risk if your:

  • Mother
  • Sister
  • Daughter (first-degree relative)
  • More than one family member on your mother’s or father’s side

These family members had breast cancer or ovarian cancer. In addition your risk also increases if you have a first-degree male relative with breast cancer.

Radiation Therapy Treatment

Having previous radiation therapy involving the chest or breast (for example, Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment) before the age of 30. So this increases your chances for getting breast cancer later in life.

Diethylstilbestrol (DES)

In the United States 1940-1971 it was common practice for women to take diethylstilbestrol. Some pregnant women were given this to prevent miscarriage. That is to say this puts you at higher risk also if your mother took this drug while pregnant with you.

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Risk Factors that can be changed

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Not being Active

Subsequently if you are not exercising or being physically active this increases your risk for getting breast cancer.

Overweight or Obese after Menopause

As we age we may put on some extra weight. Not only is this not good it can increase your risk for breast cancer compared to those at a normal weight.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Both estrogen and progesterone prescribed during menopause raises the risk for breast cancer if you are using over five years. Furthermore some oral contraceptives (birth control pills) have also been detected to raise breast cancer risk.

Pregnancy

Concerning pregnancy if you had your first child after age 30 and didn’t breastfeed. And those not having a full-term pregnancy are at higher risk for breast cancer.

Alcohol

The more alcohol drinks you have the higher your risk for breast cancer according to studies.

Along with:

  • Smoking
  • Exposure to cancer causing chemicals
  • Working a night shift changing your hormones

Breast Cancer Symptoms

Often symptoms may not be noticed until they are severe. They can vary according to the location and type. However if there is a shift of any kind have it checked out.

Symptoms can include:

  • A lump in the breast or armpit feeling different
  • Breast shape, size or appearance has altered
  • Discharge from the nipple
  • Rash on breast skin
  • Skin over the breast has switched ,for instance dimpled
  • Breast pain
  • Nipple is inverted or going inward
  • Scaling, peeling, or flaking skin especially of the areola
  • Redness and/or pitting of the breast skin, similar to an orange

Breast Cancer in Men

It is very rare but men can develop breast cancer in their cells and tissue also. Men consist of less than 1% and about one out of a thousand are diagnosed. You know how men don’t like going to the doctor so they need to be encouraged to do so. Thus this fact raises their mortality rate.

Rise factors involving men include:

  • Exposure to radiation
  • Having high estrogen levels
  • Family history having strong connection to the BRCA2 gene

Why do Men Develop Breast Cancer?

Well you know men don’t have breast as we identify them. But everyone has breast tissue. As females various hormones stimulate the growth of breast tissue. Further usually the male body doesn’t produce the breast-stimulating hormones.

As a result, their breast tissue structure is flat and small. However you can still glimpse males who have medium-sized or big breasts. Basically these breasts are just mounds of fat. But sometimes taking specific mediations or having abnormal hormone amounts can develop real breast gland tissue.

Few studies are available due to breast cancer in men being rare. The majority of these studies have been small according to the Breast Cancer Organization.

This goes to show any sex can be diagnosed with breast cancer. Prevention and treatments are similar. But catching symptoms early is essential.

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Prevention for Breast Cancer

Eat Healthy

How many times have you read this statement? It’s the truth you gotta eat healthy foods for nutrients the body needs. Above all leafy greens, fatty fish, citrus fruits, beans, can help reduce breast cancer risk (as well as other diseases).

Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is important. If you desire to lose extra pounds yoga can help. Query your doctor about reducing your calories or doing a detox.

Get Moving

Taking a walk or working on a project means you’re physically active. As a result this guides maintaining weight (and prevent breast cancer).

Screenings

Above all don’t forget and remind other females (men) to do their self-breast exam monthly. In addition be seen for a mammogram if required.

Wrapping it up

Many pink ribbons are seen in October for National Breast Cancer Awareness. This health campaign has roots and goals. Certainly a healthy lifestyle prevents the disease.

There are risk factors that can’t be changed such as those that are inherited. In addition risk factors that can be prevented with lifestyle changes. Men don’t have breast as we do even though rare, they can develop breast cancer.

Mary

Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fifteen years.

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