October is widely celebrated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month!! Wooo Hooo pink cups at the coffee shop and the NFL players are rocking those pink shoes! But come on guys, its not about getting a discount on your favorite fuchsia brand of lip stick, its about getting your boobs checked for cancer!
Breast cancer is the number 2 cause of cancer deaths in women in the united states, right behind lung cancer (so don’t smoke, that will be another blog post for another day) and other than skin cancer, is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. About 1 in 8 of your girlfriends, aunts, grandmothers and sisters will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, and in 2019, in the US alone, an estimated 41,760 women will die of breast cancer! https://www.breastcancer.org
So, let’s get those girls checked! Starting with monthly self-breast exams. I want you to get to know those ladies like they are your two best friends. That way, when one of them decides to goes rogue on you and grows a lump, you’ll know it immediately. Just like that time you knew Jennifer’s husband was secretly stopping at Becky’s house on his way home from work by the new perfume you smelled in his truck! Jennifer wouldn’t be caught dead wearing Clinique Happy, that is so last year. You are your own best detective when it comes to breast lumps/bumps and skin changes. So, check yourself out in the mirror, look at how good you look! Feel em up in the shower and get to know your own body.
And for heck sake ladies, get your mammogram!!! Take home point for those in the back, GET YOUR MAMMOGRAM
When to get a mammogram depends on several factors, your age, family history, overall health, etc. And the recommendations aren’t always crystal clear on your google search. So I’m going to make it easy for you. Call your family doctor, make an appointment for your annual physical, and when you are there, ask them, “Do I need my mammogram this year?” We get paid to stay up on this stuff so you don’t have to. Remember, keeping people healthy is my favorite thing! Don’t have a family doctor?? WHAT??? Your killing me here. But don’t worry, the friendly folks at your local health department can help you out as well. (but seriously, get a family doctor!)
There are a few new Buzz words around mammograms, lets unpack those a bit.
#1-Digital Mammography, this is basically standard of care now, and just means the images are stored on a computer and not the old timey black films of yesteryear. Picture in your head for me camera film vs. an SD card. (does anyone under 30 even know what camera film looks like?)
#2-3D Mammography, this is a computer software program taking multiple 2D images and combining them into one 3D image. It takes a few seconds longer and there is a slightly higher amount of radiation exposure but it is still well within the FDA guidelines for safety. Be sure to check with your insurance if they will cover the 3D mammogram, many do, but some may not.
There is a new test on the market called Breast Thermography, but let me just say from the top it is not a substitute for mammography! There is no independent scientific research to show Thermography is effective at detecting breast cancer, there just isn’t any data guys! Even the makers of the test say it Does Not detect cancer, just increased blood flow. So, don’t rely on it as a stand-alone test for breast cancer screening. It has only been approved by the FDA as an “adjunctive” tool, meaning use alongside primary screening tests – Mammograms. What is particularly concerning is the test has an unacceptably high rate of false negatives, meaning the thermogram tells you everything is fine, when in reality there is a cancer growing in your boob! The internet, and your friend Debby, are full of unfounded claims, that are literally Killing women by given them false senses of security. Mammography has been proven over and over and over again to find breast cancers early and they are safe. So, don’t be fooled, and trust your family doctor! https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/safety-communications/fda-warns-thermography-should-not-be-used-place-mammography-detect-diagnose-or-screen-breast-cancer
Now let’s be honest, if men had boobs, they would have come up with a better way to screen them for cancer. No one loves getting the girls squeezed within an inch of their life in 3 directions. But its your best change at catching breast cancers early, when they are still very treatable. So just do it, now, go!
Most cities have walk-in mammogram locations, no appointment needed, All insurance carriers, Medicare and Medicaid cover the cost of screening mammograms and many states offer free mammograms to women who do not have insurance. Here is a great tool to find a free mammogram near you! https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/nbccedp/screenings.htm
So, you literally have NO EXCUSES!
OK, we are talking about prevention right, well technically speaking mammography is “Screening” and early detection. But there are some things you can do to help prevent and reduce your risk of breast cancer.
First and foremost, eat a healthy diet, avoid processed foods and added chemicals whenever possible. All of us need to eat more veggies and drink more water. And here’s the thing about water, it has to be actual water, like a Fish Can Swim in it Water! Crystal Lite does not count, sorry Karen. Maintaining a healthy weight is also an important way to reduce your risk of breast cancer. Avoid exposure to large doses of radiation, chemicals and excessive hormones. And here’s the one that hurts a little bit even as I type it…avoid excessive alcohol. I know, I know, mamma needs her wine. But try to limit it to a reasonable amount, the jury is still out on what exactly that means, but everyone would agree that large amounts of alcohol is bad for you.
So go get your mammogram, just get it. I’m pretty sure they give you free cookies at the imaging centers! And talk to your doctor about your breast health. And since it is Breast Cancer Awareness month, check out some of the fine retailers around the country doing good work and supporting breast cancer research. You know you want to shop anyway, so while you are in the waiting room at your doctors office, get something nice for yourself, or your friend Jennifer, since her husband is a jerk. https://www.mother.ly/shop/breast-cancer-awareness-month-products-that-give-back?rebelltpage=19#rebelltitem19
Here is the CDCs link to breast cancer awareness if you need more information.