Did you know that each year in the United States, about 264,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,400 in men? About 42,000 women and 500 men in the U.S. die each year from breast cancer. That’s a lot of information coming at you at once. If you already knew that – good on you! If you didn’t, I’m hoping that there’s an opportunity to drop some more knowledge about things you may not know about Breast Cancer.
In honor of Breast Cancer awareness month, here are 6 things you probably don’t know about Breast Cancer.
1. Breastfeeding can lower your risk of Breast Cancer
As a new mom, I know the power of breastfeeding, and like many who are fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed, we know the power of it, but we didn’t know until recently that it can actually help lower your risk of breast cancer.
“Research shows mothers who breastfeed lower their risk of pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer. And, breastfeeding longer than the recommended six months can provide additional protection,” says Lindsey Wohlford, wellness dietitian.
2. Ethnicity plays a role
Did you know that white women are slightly more at risk to develop breast cancer than Black, Hispanic, and Asian women. However, Black women are more likely to die from it and develop more aggressive, more advanced-stage breast cancer.
If you’ve ever had a mammogram then you’ve likely noticed that when filling out the new patient survey one of the questions they ask is if you’re an Ashkenazi Jew. While this may seem like a weirdly specific question, especially for someone who isn’t Jewish, for breast cancer this question it DOES matter. According to the CDC, One in 40 Ashkenazi Jewish women has a BRCA gene mutation. The BRCA gene raises a persons risk at breast cancer at a younger age. Ashkenazi Jewish women are at a higher risk for breast cancer at a younger age.
Luckily these kinds of genetic testing are much more available now than they were previously.
3. Having a social life is good for your health
Are you looking for a good excuse for a night out with the girls? Not that you need one, but we’ve got you covered anyway! In a 2009 study, researchers at the University of Chicago report that lonely women may be at greater risk for breast cancer.
The theory? Stress and anxiety caused by social isolation may have the power to increase the growth of tumors in the breasts.
Uh-oh! As we’ve all learned the hard way from Covid, we can all safely say that, social isolation isn’t good for anyones health, in any way.
4. Breast Cancer doesn’t always appear in a lump
While discovering a lump is a common way of discovering breast cancer, it’s not the only indicator that you may have something out of the ordinary.
If you don’t know what your breast feels like, there’s no time like the present to give them a good feel and get to know your own breast! Any change in breast size, density, shape, texture, may be an indicator that you have breast cancer. If you don’t examine yourself, you won’t know what the change feels like. Get comfortable with your boobs – give them a good squeeze 🙂
Doing regular breast exams can help with early detection! Early detection can save lives. I don’t know about you but it’s always easy to do a breast exam in the shower. Try not to do it around your cycle though because your menstrual cycle can definitely change how they feel.
5. Men can get breast cancer too!
It’s really easy to forget about men when it comes to breast cancer, as the number of men impacted compared to women is very small, but the truth is, there IS a small number of men who are diagnosed with it every year, and some that die from it. It’s important that men are aware of it and also do self breast exams too!
With approx. 2,500 diagnoses in men a year, the most common way most men have identified their cancer is from a lump in the chest, typically behind the nipple.
Just like women, the earlier you detect it, the better your chances are.
6. You can decrease your risk
While there is no magic wand for eliminating breast cancer, there are things you can do to help decrease your risks for getting it.
What you put in your body (a healthy diet, reduced alcohol use), exercise, and even breastfeeding (as mentioned above) can all help decrease your risk. Did you know that even the type of birth control you’re on may increase your risk?
There are just a few things that I thought you might be interested in learning about Breast Cancer. There’s no time like the present — especially since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you’ve been reading my blog then you know, it’s a strong belief of mine to always prepare for the unexpected. Does your breast feel different? Get an exam! Today’s the day. The next time you call the doctor to make an appointment for a mammogram, consider preparing for the unexpected with an estate plan.
Jessica Henman, Attorney at Law, is based in Chico, California (born and raised in fact) and is here to help out anyone in California. For more assistance please give me a call at (530) 520-3109 or email to set-up a time to talk about getting the right estate plan, trust, wills, and other documents for your family. Whether you’re a family with young kids or a family with grown ones, or a family with no kids, I can help you every step of the way. Prepare for the unexpected.