It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, and you’re never too young or too ‘low-risk’ to pay attention to the facts. Here are 10 facts about the disease that could save your life.
Read more: 10 Myths about breast cancer
10 Facts all South Africans should know about breast cancer
- Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among South African women, with one in 31 women diagnosed in her lifetime. This statistic spans all race groups.
- The second-most common cancer among South African women is cervical cancer. It’s also one of the deadliest, but it is easily preventable – here’s how.
- The older you are, the greater risk you face when it comes to developing breast cancer. However, the disease can and does strike women under 40.
- You should examine your breasts every month, and go for regular mammograms from the age of 40. Here’s how to do a breast self-examination.
- When detected early, breast cancer has up to 95% chance of successful treatment.
- One of the greatest risk factors for breast cancer is obesity, especially after menopause. Other risk factors include being a smoker, not being physically active, consuming alcohol, and age, among others.
- Women who have breastfed, especially for longer than a year, may face a lower breast cancer risk than women who haven’t ever breastfed, studies have found.
- A high-fat diet and one that is very dense in animal protein (especially red meat) can increase your risk of breast cancer. Fill your diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, and healthy proteins like fish and seafood, white-meat poultry, eggs and legumes.
- Studies suggest that women who suffer from stress are twice as likely to develop breast cancer than those who don’t experience stress.
- If you want to help reduce your risk of breast cancer, do the following, starting right now: stop smoking; limit your alcohol intake; exercise at least moderately (aim for three times a week, for 30 minutes each time); find out what your healthy weight is and stick to it; always wear sunscreen when you’re outdoors, in every season; revamp your diet, cutting out junk food, sugar and high-fat foods, and try to keep stress to a minimum.
Read more: 7 signs your stress is out of control
Get a complete breast check-up at Marie Stopes
All adult women should have annual women’s wellness check-ups, which include breast exams. These examinations can help to detect any problems early, and to treat them quickly and efficiently for your best chance of recovery. Breast cancer can be beaten, but early detection is the key.