The pink ribbon is the most prominent symbol to raise awareness about breast cancer and promote education surrounding prevention, detection, treatment and the need for a reliable cure. As part of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, eMedical Urgent Care has expanded the conversation by helping women identify preventable environmental risk factors starting right at home.
- Create a Healthy Home – Reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals by removing dangerous chlorine and bleach cleaning products. Try simple DIY recipes such as mixing a solution of half water and half vinegar for sparkling windows and mix baking soda and castile soap to create a gentle scrubbing cleanser for the bathtub.
- Protect Mother Nature – Many of the things you do to protect you and your family from toxic exposures are also good for Mother Nature. For example, find a safe way to fight germs (avoid triclosan) by using soap and water to wash your hands and dispose of electronics and batteries properly.
- Keep Skin Safe – Some personal care products also contain dangerous chemicals that have been linked to cancer and birth defects. Avoid products that have the following chemicals: paraben, petroleum distillates and lead acetate. For products you can’t live without, find a safe alternative using the Think Dirty app, which contains a database of more than 94,000 personal care products.
- Eat Healthy – What you put in your body matters. Choose organics when possible, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, hormone-free meats and learn to read labels. By reducing our exposure to toxic chemicals in our food, we can reduce risk of disease. For example, studies have shown that some herbicides and pesticides stimulate growth of breast cancer cells or cause mammary cancer in rats. Therefore, always reach for certified organic (pesticide-free produce).
- Enjoy the Outdoors – Get outside to reduce stress and boost the immune system. Remember to protect yourself form the sun and avoid cigarette smoke. Let nature be your reminder to live simply and be well.
- Know Your Plastics – Some plastics are safer than others. Avoid the hormone-disrupting phthalates (often with the recycling code 3) and toxic BPA found in clear, often “shatterproof” plastic (with the recycling code 7). And never put them in the microwave which can leach chemicals into your food when heated up.
- Know Your Body – Be aware of your family history. Women ages 20 years old and older should perform breast self-exams regularly and always report any changes you notice in your breast health to a doctor right away. Women ages 40-74 should have a mammogram every year. Mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer before symptoms occur, are big enough to feel, and when it is easier to treat.
Know the Facts
- According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, and the second-most common cancer overall.
- Did you know that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime?
- Men can also get breast cancer; in fact, in the United States, about 2,000 men are diagnosed every year and about 400 men die from the disease.
- Although breast cancer is usually found in women over 50 years old, it also affects younger women.
Prevention is Power
Organizations such as the Breast Cancer Fund have innovative missions that “move beyond pink ribbons” and focus on prevention. Some risk factors for cancer can be avoided, but many cannot. National Cancer Institute states, for example, “both smoking and inheriting certain genes are risk factors for some types of cancer, but only smoking can be avoided. Regular exercise and a healthy diet may be protective factors for some types of cancer. Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may lower your risk but it does not mean that you will not get cancer.”