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Know your body, know your breasts

Know your body, know your breasts
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First B of breast health: Be healthy

Know your body, know your breasts

Third B of breast health: be informed

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Monday, September 30, 2013

The Breast Health Centre is introducing a campaign during the month of October - which is widely known as breast health month - to empower women with information and inspire them to get involved in their health and reduce their risk of breast cancer.

One in nine Canadian women is expected to develop breast cancer in her lifetime. One in 29 will die from it. Every week, between 10 and 12 Manitoba women receive a breast cancer diagnosis. Thanks to early detection and aggressive treatment options, more and more women are surviving a breast cancer diagnosis than ever before.

"We feel very strongly that living a healthy lifestyle and reducing the risk are key messages to communicate to people around breast health," says Tania D'Amato, Director of the Breast Health Centre. "While there is no one action that any individual can take to prevent breast cancer, there are things people can do to reduce their risk and improve their health and wellness."

The campaign centers on the three Bs of breast health: be healthy, be breast aware, and be informed.

Along with traditional lifestyle messages of being physically active, eating healthily, and limiting alcohol, the first B of breast health - be healthy - aims to inspire people to take into consideration all of the elements that help build health.

Research suggests regular exercise helps reduce the risk of breast cancer. Holistic health takes into account not only physical health but also emotional, mental and spiritual health, all of which contribute to overall wellness. Health may involve elements like a nourishing and healthy diet, getting enough sleep, proper self care, emotional and mental health and wellness, healthy sexuality, having a spiritual practice, regularly having fun and laughing, and contributing to but also receiving from healthy relationships.

The second B - be breast aware - encourages women to be body and breast aware. That doesn't mean regular self breast exams - it means becoming familiar with what your breasts look and feel like. It's important to know what is normal for you.

"We want to encourage people to pay attention to what their breasts look like at different points in their cycle, and note the changes in their body that hormones or age create," says Dr. Ethel MacIntosh, Medical Director for the Breast Health Centre. "Looking at and touching your breasts can very easily become a part of your regular routine."

On any given day, most people know what their hands look like. They know what their hands feel like, what their skin looks like and feels like to touch. Factors like increased heat or cold may impact swelling or joint pain. A deep paper cut, for example may be something to watch for. Health experts are encouraging this same familiarity with your breasts.

"It's about encouraging people to know their bodies and their breasts. Then if something looks or feels different, they can either watch it or contact their health provider for an appointment to discuss their concern," says D'Amato.

Information - particularly in a time when the internet offers up to the minute information at our fingertips - is an important component in breast health, which is why be informed is the third B of breast health

The challenge is deciding which information is accurate. The information presented on the Breast Health Centre website is based on research, and only gets added after careful consultation and discussion with breast health experts.

During the month of October, a graphic window at 400 Taché, where the Breast Health Centre is located, will emphasize the campaign's key messages and encourage people to consider their breast health.

The Winnipeg Fire Fighters and Pinky (the pink fire truck) will be joining the Breast Health Centre staff on October 9th for a bake sale. Buy tasty goodies between 9:00 am and noon at the Breast Health Centre on Tache and support breast health.

The numbers

  • One in nine Canadian women is expected to develop breast cancer in her lifetime. One in 29 will die from it.
  • In 2012, about 22,700 Canadian women were diagnosed with breast cancer. That means every week, 434 women received a life-changing diagnosis.
  • In the same year, about 200 men were diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Since 1986, female breast cancer mortality rates have fallen.
  • The breast cancer mortality rate is at its lowest since 1950.
  • 88 per cent of women and 79 per cent of men have a five year survival rate.

Canadian Cancer Society/National Cancer Institute of Canada: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2012, Toronto, Canada, 2012

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