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According to the American Cancer Society, as many as 1 in 8 women can have invasive breast cancer at some point in her life. This is a scary thought considering that, as of 2011, 39,520 deaths have been attributed to breast cancer. Of those diagnosed with breast cancer, 1 in 35 women passes away from this horrible disease. Fortunately, being diagnosed with breast cancer is not a death sentence and about two and half million breast cancer survivors prove that. With early detection and prevention, you can help reduce your chance of developing breast cancer and increase your survival rate if you happen to become afflicted with the illness.

Regular screening for breast cancer is recommended for women of all ages. However, for women age 40 and over, a mammogram screening once a year will help detect breast cancer, increasing your chance of survival. Even though most women find mammograms unpleasant, they are extremely important for a long and healthy life. For women in their 20s and 30s, have your primary care physician perform a clinical breast exam once every 3 years. In addition, perform a self-breast exam regularly and check with your doctor or his nurse about the proper self-breast exam technique. If you happen to find a lump, contact your primary care physician immediately.

Even with regular mammograms, breast cancer can still be missed. That is why it is important to know the signs and symptoms that you should look for. The common sign of cancer is lumps or mass developing on the breast. However, there are several other signs that you need to keep an eye out for. If you begin to have discharge, other than breast milk, or the breast becomes swollen or sore, contact your primary care physician as soon as possible. In addition, if the nipple begins to turn inward or nipple pain occurs, visit your doctor for a full examination. Other symptoms of breast cancer include redness and thickening of the breast, and nipple and skin irritation. If you ever have any questions about your health, do not hesitate to consult your primary care physician.

Besides routine health examinations, you can take several other steps to help lower your risk of developing breast cancer. Living a healthy lifestyle is not only a smart idea, it also helps lower your chance of developing diseases such as cancer. This includes maintaining a healthy body weight for your age and height as well as eating healthy foods and regularly exercising for at least 30 minutes a day, five or more times a week. Avoid unhealthy foods as much as possible and consume lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables (such as brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage), leafy dark vegetables (such as spinach, collards, and kale) tomatoes, berries, citrus fruits, cherries, and carrots help lower the chance of breast cancer. In addition, take a multivitamin daily to lower your chance of developing cancer while helping you maintain a healthy body. Consult your primary care physician before beginning any vitamin regimen.

Refrain from consuming alcoholic beverages and consuming tobacco products including cigarettes and snuff. Not only are these items putting unnecessary toxins in your body but they also increase your chance of developing cancer.

By taking these few simple steps, you will provide a healthier life for yourself and lower your risks of breast cancer.