Lowering the risks
10/18/2013, 6 a.m.
This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Various organizations partner at this time of year to remind Canadian women of the importance of breast cancer prevention and screening for early detection.
The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation recommends regular mammogram screening for women over the age of 40. In 2011, the foundation published a study in which 1,671 Canadian women were polled about whether the risks of “false positive” results in mammograms were a deterrent to that kind of screening. About 85 percent of these women felt that organized screening for women between 40 and 49 is effective, and 87.5 percent of them felt that the benefits of early detection through mammogram outweighed the risks of a false positive result.
In addition to early detection through regular screening, clinical breast exams and self-breast exams every two to three years are recommended for women in their 20s and 30s.
There are some lifestyle-related risk factors for breast cancer. These are unlike the unchangeable risk factors that women can do nothing to alter, such as genetic predisposition, dense breast tissue, and having had previous chest radiation treatments. Women can improve their chances of staying free from this disease by keeping a moderate body weight, getting plenty of physical exercise, eating a healthy diet, giving up tobacco use, and reducing alcohol consumption. Post-menopausal women considering hormone replacement therapy should discuss with their doctors the risks involved with that kind of treatment, as should women using oral contraceptives.