October is a big month for breast cancer awareness, but the fact of the matter is that breast cancer should be top of mind, always. About 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, and catching the cancer early can help improve survival rates. We’ve teamed up with The Keep a Breast Foundation, a non-profit organization that empowers young people around the world with breast health education and support to provide you with things you can do now to lower your breast cancer risk later.
Although doctors use mammograms to look for early signs of breast cancer, they’re typically performed annually and only for women older than 40. What about the in-between time? What if you’re under 40? Regardless of age, women (and men!) should be checking themselves for lumps and changes in the shape or texture of the nipple or breast on a monthly basis. Other things to look for: an inverted nipple, nipple discharge, redness, or swollen lymph nodes.
Our friends at the Keep A Breast Foundation have just launched their NEW Keep A Breast App! Download it for step-by-step instructions, monthly reminders, breast health info and support, and so much more! Psst! It’s FREE!
TLDR: 40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who discover their own lump. The importance of self-exams cannot be stressed enough!
Image courtesy of The Keep a Breast Foundation
Replace Alcohol with Safer Alternatives
There are a ton of studies about the link between alcohol and breast cancer. If you enjoy kicking back with a pint of beer or glass of wine, you won’t like what we’re about to say: having more than one alcoholic drink per day can increase your breast cancer risk. Fortunately, there are some safer alternatives, including non-alcoholic versions of your favorite spirits, low-alcoholic kombucha, or cannabis. When comparing alcohol to cannabis in terms of fatality rates, brain health, addiction rates, overdoses, cancer risk, and weight gain, cannabis comes out on top each and every time.
TLDR: Alcohol can increase the likelihood of breast cancer, so limit your intake and opt for non-alcoholic versions of your favorite drinks.
Did you know that long-term stress can open the door for breast cancer by increasing blood flow to tumors, keeping your body in a constant state of inflammation, and feeding hormones that actually encourage tumor growth? Yikes! Luckily, these can all be reduced by simply decompressing. If you have a medical cannabis card (or live in a state where cannabis is legal), cannabis is a great anti-stressor. It has anti-inflammatory properties, can improve sleep, and for those going through chemotherapy, it can even help with nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss associated with the treatment.
TLDR: Stress kills, sometimes literally. If you find yourself feeling especially stressed or anxious, try things like yoga, listening to your favorite music, or taking CBD.
Healthy is a loaded word: it means different things to different people, and it has less to do with how you look on the outside and more to do with how you feel on the inside. Eating well and exercising are the best ways to maintain general good health, but things like getting enough sleep are important, too. Here are some quick tips for staying healthy:
- Move your body - 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 times a week can lower your risk of breast cancer by 30-50 percent. Hiking, running, and cardio are all good options. If you’re looking for something low-impact, swimming is the way to go.
- Eat well - Many foods have cancer-fighting properties, including broccoli, berries, apples, carrots, fatty fish, walnuts, and legumes.
- Go outside - Vitamin D is an incredibly important vitamin, and since most of us work and play indoors, it’s also a vitamin a lot of us are deficient in. Head outdoors, soak up the sun (don’t forget the sunscreen), and destress outdoors.
- Add CBD to your routine- CBD can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle in a variety of ways, including as a workout supplement, as a sleep aid, and to help cut down on inflammation. It’s a great alternative for those interested in the healing benefits of cannabis without the THC.
TLDR: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a great way to help lower your risk of breast cancer. Exercise, eat lots of fruits and veggies, stock up on some CBD, and head outdoors for some time in the sunshine.
Read Labels...on Everything!
Did you know environmental factors contribute to 90% of breast cancer diagnoses? This includes products we use in our homes and on our bodies. Unfortunately, the cosmetics industry is very loosely regulated, so it’s up to you to do your research and find “clean” products that aren’t packed with unhealthy chemicals. The EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a great place to start. (Seriously! Bookmark it now!) You can enter in the names of the products you currently use to see all the icky ingredients they contain, or use it to find clean replacements.
TLDR: Cosmetic and cleaning products are packed with harmful chemicals. Opt for “clean” brands like Seventh Generation and Honest Company, or make your own products!
You Are Your Breast Advocate
So much of prevention, early detection, and general health is about knowing your own body. As our friends at the KAB say, “no one knows your own body like you do.” Don’t be afraid to ask questions, get second opinions, and make an appointment with your doctor if anything seems weird or out of the ordinary. It’s your health, your body, and your life -- you have the right to all of the information and options out there. If you’re interested in incorporating cannabis into your healthy lifestyle, here’s more information on how to get a medical card in Maryland.
For even more tips on early detection, the stages of breast cancer, and how you can take control of your breast health, visit The Keep a Breast Foundation for more information.
About the Keep a Breast Foundation
The Keep A Breast Foundation™ is a nonprofit organization with a mission to empower young people around the world with breast health education and support.
2020 marks Keep A Breast’s 20th Anniversary! Since its inception in 2000, KAB has worked with young people to remove the shame associated with breasts and breast health. Through various initiatives and programs such as breast cast art exhibitions, “Non Toxic Revolution”, “Keep A Breast App” and "i love boobies!" campaign, KAB has opened up the dialog about breast cancer, and has proven to be a doorway to breast self-awareness and education.
Keep A Breast has grown into the leading global youth-based breast cancer prevention organization, with global affiliates in Europe, based in France, and partners in Mexico, Zambia, Kenya, and The Democratic Republic of Congo. Constantly pushing the boundaries of the pink ribbon status quo, Keep A Breast has always encouraged young people to love their boobies, get to know their bodies, and be aware of changes.