May 16, 2013
There are many chronic diseases plaguing our society. One of the most notable diseases is cancer. Cancer affects many different organs and tissue throughout the body, thus there are many different types of cancer. Recently, cancer and the treatments for cancer have directly affected my life; therefore I chose to take the health risk assessment on breast cancer. After discovering in October 2011 that my mother had breast cancer I started to take a hard look at my current lifestyle. First, I wanted to know what breast cancer is exactly. Second, what are the risk factors associated with this disease? Finally, what are some lifestyle choices I can make to decrease my risk of getting this disease? When I first found out about my mother I was of course shocked, but I wanted to know everything I could learn about the disease. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that can grow or invade the surrounding tissue and can spread to distant areas of the body. There are two types of breast cancer, noninvasive and invasive. Noninvasive cancer means the cancer has not spread to the breast tissue around the duct or lobule. Invasive cancer means the cancer has spread outside the membrane and is invading the surrounding tissue. Invasive cancer also means the cancer has the ability to travel to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes. After learning about the disease, I wanted to know what the risk factors associated with this disease are and if I am more or less susceptible now that my mother has been diagnosed with cancer. First, I learned there are several risk factors that I cannot change, such as gender, age, and genetics. However, there are certain risk factors that I can control such as my alcohol intake, my diet and weight, and my physical activity level. While on most days I typically enjoy a glass of wine after work, I try to limit myself to 1 or 2 during the week and maybe one or two more on the weekends. My alcohol intake never weighed as heavily on my mind in the past as it does today. Knowing that the amount of alcohol I consume has the potential to reduce my risk of developing breast cancer is certainly at the fore-front of my mind. My diet and weight are another factor that I strive to maintain daily. I do not eat processed foods and only keep fresh foods in my kitchen. According to the American Cancer Society, it is not yet known which of the compounds in fruits and vegetables are most beneficial, so it is recommended to eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables each day. I take this very seriously, and eat fruit and vegetables twice a day. Although about 5% to 10% of breast cancer is thought to be hereditary, I still strive to maintain a daily healthy lifestyle to limit my risks. Some of the healthy lifestyle choices I make daily are eating well, not smoking, reducing my intake of alcohol, and most recently, I have begun to exercise. While some of these lifestyle choices are not my favorite, for example exercise, I realize that by maintaining a balanced, healthy life I can to do my part to eliminate the risk of developing chronic diseases like breast cancer.
American Cancer Society. (2/26/2013). What is breast cancer? Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-what-is-breast-cancer Mayo Clinic. (10/02/2012). Breast cancer types: What your type means. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/breast-cancer/HQ00348