October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Janet Hackert, Regional Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension

Breast cancer is so prevalent that most people know someone who has had it. In fact, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so here are a few facts, some of which may be surprising.

A family history of breast cancer is considered a risk factor, so if a woman’s mother, sister, aunt or grandmother has had it, she should be more careful about looking for it. However, having this risk factor does not mean that you will get breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, “only 20-30 percent of women with breast cancer have a family member with this disease.” This means that 7 or 8 out of every 10 women who have breast cancer are NOT related to someone who has had it.

As a woman ages, her risk of developing breast cancer increases. “Nearly 8 out of 10 breast cancers occur in women over age 50,” says the American Cancer Society. The risk for a woman over 70 developing the disease in the next year is almost double that for a 50-year-old.

Some risk factors are out of your control, but there are some changes you can make to lower your risk of breast cancer, including maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise and avoiding or limiting alcohol intake. Not using hormone therapy after menopause may also help lower your risk.

Regardless of risk factors, early detection is important!…

For more information about early detection, check out the full version of this article at http://missourifamilies.org/features/healtharticles/health81.htm

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