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Remember Your Mammogram

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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It is a good time to schedule your mammogram. You do get your mammogram (if you are over 40) on a regular basis, right? Regular as decided together by you and your physician—this may mean every year or every other year. No excuses.

Mammograms are still the gold standard for detecting breast cancer. So, along with inspecting your breasts for signs of changes or abnormalities, get your mammogram. If you think you can’t afford it because you don’t have health insurance or you have a high deductible, ask your health care provider about a payment plan or any available discounts. Contact the local health department or Susan G. Komen affiliates for possible resources. Check out programs that provide free mammograms like the Kohl’s Southeast Wisconsin Breast Health Assistance Fund administered by the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation.

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If you are a woman, you are at risk and your risk increases with age. Other things that may increase your risk are family history of breast cancer (mother, sister, daughter) although most women who get breast cancer—about 230,000/year in the US—have no family history of the disease. Taking birth control pills and drinking alcohol have also been shown to slightly increase your breast cancer risk.

Ways to reduce your risk factors include: maintaining a healthy weight, especially after menopause and getting regular physical activity. We are just beginning to learn more about the environmental risk factors for breast cancer. Products that contain phthalates (found in personal care products like nail polish and fragrances) are being researched for their impact on breast cancers. Researchers are considering “windows of susceptibility” regarding exposures to chemicals, such as a girl’s puberty and  a women’s pregnancy.

The Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program is hosting its 10th anniversary annual meeting/conference in Madison on November 7-8. This free event will present the latest research and current findings related to environmental exposures and breast cancer risk. For more information go to www.wibcerp.wisc.edu.

This month, take a moment to remember the women who have lost their battle with breast cancer—we all know someone who has died. Send a prayer to their family. Take time this month to reduce your risk—get out and walk, bike or dance. And, get your mammogram.vibevixen-breast-cancer-ribbon

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