By Hellen Nanzia
Cancer is the third highest cause of morbidity in Kenya [7% of deaths per year] after infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases. The country has an estimate 39,000 reported cases of cancer each year with more than 27,000 deaths per year, with 60% of those affected by cancer being younger than 70 years old.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month- a time to remember friends and family members who have battled the disease and also to consider how you can protect yourself. Here are 10 important facts you may not be aware of about this disease so you’re better prepared to detect, prevent and fight it.
Looking for genetic clues? Your father’s side of the family counts, too.
Did a relative on your father’s side of the family have breast cancer? Most women mistakenly assume that the health problems of women on their paternal side of the family don’t apply to them, a myth that can have grave health consequences. Years ago, women were often blindsided by breast cancer because they didn’t know that a history of cancer among their paternal relatives could indicate that they, too, were at risk. Research now reveals that the paternal (father’s side) branch of the family tree should be factored in while calculating risk factors for breast cancer.
Secondhand smoke may increase your risk
Do you complain when co-workers blow plumes of smoke your way as you enter the office building, or throw a fit when your partner/spouse insists on going to a smoke-filled bar. You have good reason to beyond feeling a little uncomfortable. A study of more than 500 women in Mexico found that those who were regularly exposed to second-hand smoke in their homes or work place were three times more likely to developing breast cancer than those who avoided cast off smoke.
Black women are more likely to die from the disease
While breast cancer affects women of all ages and races, the most recent data from the American Cancer Society shines a disturbing light on a lesser-known fact about the disease: African-American women under the age of 45 are not only more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, but are also more likely to die from the disease. Experts aren’t sure why this is, but they encourage African-American women to be diligent about detection and prevention, including being aware of changes in their breasts and talking to their doctors about risk factors and screenings.
Every 13 minutes, a woman dies from breast cancer
Statistics on this killer disease are not encouraging. Aside from cancers affecting reproductive organs such as the cervix, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the most recent data, since 2006, 191,410 women in America were diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,820 died from it. To bring these numbers closer home, list eight women in your life whom you love and admire. According to global statistics, one of these women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime
Early detection and treatment equates to a 96 percent survival rate, in most cases
As discouraging as the news about breast cancer is, experts are quick to point out that early detection and treatment are key to improving your chances of beating the disease. In fact, according to estimates, 96 percent of women who detect their cancer early enough will be cancer-free in five years.
Found a lump? See your doctor
You found a lump in your breast, Now what? While it’s a good reason to see your doctor immediately, but don’t be too worried. Here’s why: Experts say that more than 80 percent of breast lumps turn out to be non-cancerous and often harmless. And here’s some more good news: Breast cancer rates may be falling, according to the most recent statistics.
Fish oil may help you reduce your risk
Want to reduce your breast cancer risk by 32 percent? Researchers in Seattle whose study was recently published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Bio-markers & Prevention advise taking a daily fish oil supplement. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil may help combat breast cancer, particularly invasive ductal breast cancer—the most common form of the disease. If you don’t like supplements, make sure you’re eating foods rich in omega-3s, such as salmon, halibut, sardines, flax seeds and nuts.
Grab a friend and go get checked out today!