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Be PINK empowers youth with information about breast health

Evidence-based video and resources encourage health and breast awareness

Canadian rocker Bif Naked shares her story of surviving breast cancer in the Be PINK DVD.
Canadian rocker Bif Naked shares her story of surviving breast cancer in the Be PINK DVD.
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BY ANDREA BODIE
Winnipeg Health Region
Published Wednesday October 5, 2011

Learning about breast health from Olympians and a rock star who also happens to be a breast cancer survivor is hitting all the right notes with adolescents.

The Be PINK DVD, based on an evidence based-program created in Manitoba specifically for adolescents, was released this fall. Along with healthy living tips from Olympic Gold medalist Tessa Virtue and track and field champion Sarah Wells, Bif Naked shares her story of surviving a breast cancer diagnosis.

The video summarizes information outlined in the Be PINK Adolescent Breast Health Resource, which has received national attention as the first evidence-based breast health resource for teens in Canada.

Why provide this information to youth when 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50? Because while age is a risk factor for breast cancer, there are life style behaviours that teens can do now and throughout their lifetime that will significantly reduce their risk of breast cancer in the future. Health experts say that women of all ages also need to be breast aware – knowing what's normal for their body and breasts - so early detection is possible.

"Be PINK is an interactive, age appropriate, evidence based resource that is about creating body awareness and knowing what your breasts look and feel like. It encourages teens to adopt a healthy lifestyle. It helps build body awareness and knowledge. We get them thinking about breast health," says Melissa Deroche, Project Manager, Be PINK Adolescent Breast Health Initiative, CancerCare Manitoba.

In order to reach as many teens as possible, the resource is aligned with the Manitoba Physical Education/Health Education curriculum for grades nine through 12. It also supports learning outcomes outlined in the Science curriculum for grade 11 and 12 Biology.

"Our goal is primarily to reach physical education, health and biology teachers at the high school level, and public health educators and get them using it. Teachers can pick it up and know it's reliable, evidence-based information," says Deroche. "We also want to reach teens we aren't able to access through school programming. Along with making the video available online through You Tube, it will be promoted using social media like Facebook and Twitter."

Separating fact from fiction is no small feat in our age of information.  Be PINK is based on the latest research, with content developed by Manitoba breast health experts. That means teens are benefiting from the latest, most accurate information currently available on body and breast health.

The Manitoba Breast and Women's Cancer Network initially identified the need for an educational resource for adolescents that would help foster body awareness and inform them about breast health. Leadership from CancerCare Manitoba Breast Cancer Centre of Hope and the Winnipeg Health Region's Breast Health Centre helped steer the project, supported by funds from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Prairies/NWT Region. The English pilot was launched in 2007 and the program was translated into French in 2009.

Since its inception, over 1500 students have been reached through Be PINK. The resource has been downloaded around the world by people living in the US, Australia, India, Bermuda, Argentina, Pakistan and Tanzania.

People are talking

Teachers and students have great things to say about Be PINK. Here's the impact it's having:

  • After receiving three lessons, four out of five students reported they were inspired to want to make lifestyle changes to lower their risk of breast cancer.
  • Students said: "It taught me things I never knew before. I liked that the information was short and to the point, along with being easy to understand. I think the DVD is very informative. "
  • Teachers say: "I think the information was not only good but necessary to increase awareness and decrease breast cancer. I wish I had seen this video when I was in high school. I am glad these resources are available for my children now."
  • 82% said they agreed or strongly agreed the video increased their knowledge about breast health

Further reading

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