Check out your breasts
As I'm sure you've heard, October is national "be aware of breast cancer month".
Truth be told, I'm not really keen on all the hype and, of course, buying opportunities. From pink Neiman-Marcus tea sets and high end vacuum cleaners to relabeled food items such as tea and soup, there are lots of items for you to buy that send a bit of cash to breast cancer charities. Why does this bother me? Maybe it's because I've never been a pink and frills sort of gal. Maybe it's because so many of the products seem targeted to a stereotypical woman who joyously cooks, cleans, and, if she is upper class, serves tea to her lady friends - where are the pink "breast cancer awareness" basketballs, cameras and hiking gear? (Will we see blue tool boxes, barbecue aprons and electric guitars for national prostate cancer month? ) Or maybe it's because it feels tacky to make a serious disease "chic" and all about buying. Seriously, if you have money burning a hole in your pocket, send it directly to the American Cancer Society.
OK, my rant is over.
All my annoyance about advertising aside, breast cancer is a serious issue. At my age (which I'll let you infer from the statistics), I have a greater than 1 in 10 chance of developing breast cancer by the time I'm 85 years old. Every year 211,000 American women (and 1,700 men) are diagnosed with the disease. The good news is that if it is caught early, the cancerous cells can be surgically removed, and the prognosis is much better than if the tumor has a chance to develop. Early detection is the key. Most women over the age of 40 do have mammograms. If you haven't, please consider getting one - breast self examination has unfortunately been shown to be of little benefit . The CDC lists resources for free and low cost breast and cervical cancer screening, so money should not be an issue.
And don't be lulled into thinking that this is just about breast cancer. All cancers are more easily treated if detected early.
• Screen For Life is the CDC's campaign for colorectal cancer screening (What would be the appropriate color ribbon for that campaign?). Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer among adults aged 50 or older.
• If you are a man, you should consider prostate cancer screening. Prostate cancer is one of the top ten causes of death in men over the age of 45. The CDC has a guide to help you determine if prostate screening is appropriate for you.
• Unfortunately, there is currently no reliable screening method for lung cancer.
For all types of cancer, you can reduce your risk by not smoking, eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and exercising. I know it's easier said than done, but even if it doesn't prevent cancer, such a lifestyle will generally improve your health.
You can learn more about breast cancer detection and treatment from the National Cancer Institute. You can download pink ribbon graphics from the official National Breast Cancer Awareness Month web site.
Tags: breast cancer, pink, health, medicine