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Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…
October 4, 2017

Q: Mr. Pedometer, did you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

A: Thanks for the reminder! By now, probably each of us knows someone who has had (or currently has) breast cancer. The good news is that detection and treatment have improved. According to the American Cancer Society, there are over 3.1 million women alive who have a history of breast cancer. For a woman, there is a 1 in 8-lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. However, of those diagnosed and treated, 89% survive 5 years later; 83% survive 10 years later, and 78% survive 15 years later.

The crucial thing – the whole point of this “awareness” month – is early detection. The American Cancer Society estimated that more than 290,000 women would be newly diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 (latest data available) and that 40,290 would die. The difference between life and death can depend on whether the breast cancer is diagnosed in the earliest, most treatable stages.

For women 45-55, ACS recommends mammography screening every year. For those women at normal risk level, that screening may be reduced to every other year as of age 55, but should continue “as long as the woman’s overall health is good and her life expectancy is for 10 or more years.” Sadly, only 69% of those surveyed had had a mammogram in the previous two years. (Among college graduates, the rate was 78%.) Under the Affordable Care Act, there is no charge for mammograms.

No one gets to choose their family’s medical history, but there are four ways ACS points to for possible prevention of breast cancer:

• Avoid weight gain and obesity.
• Engage in regular physical activity (at least 150 minutes per week).
• Minimize alcohol intake (1drink per day for women, 2 per day for men — and yes, 2,350 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer    each year, and 440 will die from it.)
• Consume a healthy diet, with emphasis on plant foods.

Or, to put it another way…