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Breast Cancer Prevention Takes Multifaceted Approach

By Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)

About 13,900 women are diagnosed and, unfortunately, about 2,900 women die from breast cancer in New York State each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control, aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women and the seventh leading cause of death in women.

It’s also the number one cause of cancer death in Hispanic women.
For these reasons and others, many local, state and national organizations and health departments are honoring October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This month, volunteers and health care providers are educating women about self breast exams and urging women over the age of 40 to have a mammogram on a regular basis.

According to the State Health Department’s web site, scientists do not know exactly what causes breast cancer. They do know that certain factors increase a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer. They include increasing age, family history, genes, personal history and hormonal factors. Studies also show that exposure to high doses of x-rays increases a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer. Although scientists are not sure, other studies indicate that taking birth control pills, exposure to certain chemicals in the environment, long-term use of hormone replacement therapy, use of alcoholic beverages, obesity and lack of physical activity may be associated with increased breast cancer risk.

The Centers for Disease Control lists helpful hints to prevent breast cancer:

• Control your weight and exercise. Make healthy choices in the foods you eat and the kinds of drinks you have each day. Stay active. Learn more about keeping a healthy weight at http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/ and ways to increase your physical activity at http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity.
• Know your family history of breast cancer. If you have a mother, sister, or daughter with breast cancer, ask your doctor what is your risk of getting breast cancer and how you can lower your risk. For more information, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for information about medicines to prevent breast cancer and genetic testing for breast cancer at www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstf/uspsbrgen.htm.
• Find out the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy. Some women use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to treat the symptoms of menopause. Ask your doctor about the risks and benefits of HRT and find out if hormone replacement therapy is right for you, visit the National Cancer Institute (NCI)—Menopausal Hormone Use and Cancer: Questions and Answers at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/menopausal-hormones.
• Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. For more information, see the Alcohol Chapter of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 at www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines.
• Get screened for breast cancer regularly. For more information about the kinds of tests used to screen for breast cancer, and to learn how you can be screened, visit www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/index.htm

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.