As it happens every year, October is national breast cancer awareness month. There’s something different going on this year, however. We’re not just talking about the disease in the hopes of getting people to pay attention and donate to research. This time, we’re talking seriously about prevention.
It’s time to stop this disease in its tracks.
Not that we haven’t hit on prevention before, but this year it’s bigger than ever. Though the exact cause of the disease remains mysterious in many cases, we now know more about what can contribute to breast cancer, and what we need to do to reduce our risk.
You’ve already heard about the scientific studies linking regular exercise and a low-fat, nutritious diet to a lower risk of breast cancer. What you may be less aware of is the ever-increasing role that chemicals seem to be playing in this game.
Yes, I’ve been warning you about them in this blog, but maybe you thought I was being over cautious. Well, I’ve got some new support. The latest report by the Breast Cancer Fund says that a “substantial body of scientific evidence indicates that exposures to common chemicals and radiation also contribute to unacceptably high incidence of breast cancer.” The organization goes on to state that it’s time to move beyond awareness to prevention, petitioning President Obama to make breast cancer prevention a top priority by creating a new national cancer prevention plan, getting Bisphenol-A (BPA) out of our food and beverage containers, giving the FDA the authority to govern cosmetics, and reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act.
What we need here is a shift in thinking. So far, as as nation, we’ve kind of adopted a helpless attitude toward breast cancer. I mean, we’ve researched and researched, but as far as taking firm, decisive steps toward prevention, we’ve come up really short. We’re a nation of overweight and obese people consuming too much red meat, too many processed foods, too much sugar, and spending our days engaged in little to no physical activity. Meanwhile, we’re surrounded by chemicals in our neighborhoods, our water, our foods, and our personal care products, and we just kind of shake our heads, bemoan the unfairness of it all, and throw money at research hoping something will come along to change things.
The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing in the hopes of obtaining a different outcome. We can no longer hide our heads in the sand and “hope” that we don’t get hit. Breast cancer awareness month should be renamed “Breast Cancer Prevention” month. We are all at risk, and we need to get serious about this if we expect we’re ever going to see an end to this disease! We absolutely must take more meaningful steps to get the chemicals out of our environment and our bodies, and then we must work on an individual basis to improve our lifestyles.
“We can no longer claim to not understand the impact of toxic chemicals and radiation on our health,” says Breast Cancer Fund President Jeanne Rizzo.
If the end result is a healthier, happier nation, isn’t it worth the effort to change?
How have you made changes in your life to prevent breast cancer? Please share your story.
Photo courtesy Thomas Hawk via Flickr.com.