One in eight women is projected to be diagnosed with breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Understanding what affects that risk and how to catch any warning signs early is half the battle against breast cancer. This is more important than ever.
There may not be a cure for breast cancer yet, but there is so much a woman can do to raise awareness and lower her risk.
First, maintain a healthy lifestyle
The risk for breast cancer can be reduced by leading a healthier lifestyle, which can include exercising regularly, making healthier choices when it comes to eating and drinking, and limiting your exposure to tobacco and alcohol.
The changes don't have to be drastic -- start with simple changes, such as swapping one sugar-sweetened beverage a day for water, adding fruit and vegetables to the diet or taking the dog for an extra-long walk.
Know your history and how to detect the symptoms
Despite a healthy lifestyle, if a woman has a family history of breast cancer, that adds to her risk. So, it's crucial to know if any of her close relatives have had the disease. In addition, there are factors you can be on the lookout for as warning signs at almost any age.
The American Cancer Society recommends starting routine self-examinations in the 20s, so any changes or concerns can be reported to a health care provider. Another source of medical information can be found by visiting MayoClinic.com. Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40.
Support research and the mission to find a cure
Great work has been done to improve the treatment of breast cancer and researchers are working tirelessly towards a cure. In order to continue their intensive and innovative research, they need the support of organizations, such as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), to help fund their work.
BCRF, for example, directs more than 90 cents of every dollar donated to breast cancer research and awareness programs.
There are simple ways for a person to get involved -- from buying products that support these types of organizations to hosting a fundraiser with friends.
Nestle Pure Life brand bottled water is a great example, spotlighting breast cancer awareness on its packaging nationwide and in Canada during Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). For every specially marked "pink ribbon" package produced, the company will donate 10 cents to BCRF (minimum donation of $350,000).
For more information on how to get involved in raising awareness and on the latest research and breakthroughs, visit BCRFCure.org. There are even more tips on precautions you and your loved ones can take to reduce your risk.