Around the last week in October, I attended a Breast Cancer Awareness event in the Conte Forum arena at Boston College. The speaker was Denise Costello, owner of Health Promotion Affiliates, Inc., who has her master of science in exercise physiology. She talked about the causes of breast cancer and the steps to prevent it.

All women are at risk of getting breast cancer and should be aware of the risk factors.  Some of these are: family history of breast cancer, never bearing children or bearing children after the age of thirty, and starting the menstrual cycle at an early age. It is also important for women to be aware of the changes in their bodies and maintain an active lifestyle and a well-balanced diet.

Here are some warning signs and tips that will keep women on the right track to ensure that they are taking breast cancer prevention steps.

Breast Care Screening

Ages 20-39:

  • Monthly breast self-examination
  • Clinical breast examination every three years
  • Breast self-examination at the end of the menstrual cycle

Ages 40+:

  • Annual mammogram
  • Annual clinical breast self-examination
  • Monthly breast self-examination

Trouble Signs:

  • Lumps, hard knots, and thickening of the breasts
  • Unusual swelling of the breasts
  • Changes in the size or shape of the nipples
  • Sudden nipple discharge

Prevention

  • Exercise
  • Balanced diet (low fat, high fiber)
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Eating foods rich in phytochemicals as these foods boost the immune system and help to prevent breast cancer. Foods with phytochemicals include herbs, spices, beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits.
  • Antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium also help to prevent breast cancer.
  • Avoiding estrogen replacement after menopause is also a key factor in the prevention of the disease.

Several of the causes and prevention methods against breast cancer were foreign to me, so I truly learned many things from the presentation.  I can use the knowledge I acquired through this event to increase breast cancer awareness among peers and community members. The more women are educated on the disease, the more strides against breast cancer we can make.

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