Seeing pink everywhere? October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Stores are stocked with pink products, even the NFL has gone pink, aiming to raise awareness and money for the fight against breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the world's most common cancer among women; the disease claims the lives of hundreds of thousands every year, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, about 1 in 8 (12%) women will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.
Early screenings, an annual breast exam by a doctor and annual mammograms for women over 40, have been shown to increase the odds for survival. According to breastcancer.org, a woman's risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative, mother, sister, or daughter, who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. About 15 percent of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it. Consulting with a doctor is the best way to decide when and how often to get a mammogram.
Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1989, with larger decreases in women younger than 50. These decreases are believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment.
At this time there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. This includes women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.
Although there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, many studies have shown that moderate to vigorous physical activity is linked with lower breast cancer risk.
A diet that is rich in vegetables, fruit, poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy products has also been linked with a lower risk of breast cancer in some studies. But it is not clear if specific vegetables, fruits, or other foods can lower risk. Most studies have not found that lowering fat intake has much of an effect on breast cancer risk.