October is breast cancer awareness month, and as an advocate for health and women’s wellness, the team at Sunlighten is proud to support breast cancer research to help create awareness around this disease. We work with some amazing doctors who use infrared sauna therapy as alternative cancer treatment methods in holistic clinics in Mexico, Germany and in other countries around the world.
But beating cancer is no easy feat – both for the doctors and those who have been diagnosed with this disease. One such breast cancer survivor relates the feeling of having the wind sucked out of her lungs upon being told she had stage 4 breast cancer.
Though we have written about breast cancer awareness before, in this article we intend to deliver important statistics, what we know for sure about breast cancer and how to lower your risk of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Statistics
Taken from breastcancer.org, here are a few interesting statistics on breast cancer.
• About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
• For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
• A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
• Less than 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.
• The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older). But men have also been known to get breast cancer, though it is rare.
What We Know About Breast Cancer Survivors
Being diagnosed with breast cancer is horrifying. For some people, the gravity of the information doesn’t hit them until a few days later because it comes as such a shock. The good news is that more and more women are surviving breast cancer each year due to early detection and prevention.
One such survivor is Patsy Ayne’s who was diagnosed with stage three (3) breast cancer at 47 years old, “I was devastated at the news. I was told that I would need a mastectomy. I decided to have the implant done at the same time, which also involved removing 23 lymph nodes.Now, 27 years later, I can truly say I have been cancer-free all this time. I love every day and thank God for making me a full-fledged survivor.”
Even though many women survive breast cancer, the scars are often more than skin deep. It can have an emotional impact as well. Luckily, there are outreach programs which support women through their journey – here is Joy’s story:
Michele Hawkin’s is a survivor with a positive attitude that has left her with a skip in her step. Her yearly mammogram showed no signs of cancer, but three months later she found it for herself. She claims, “Give me a reason, ANY reason to wear one of my pink wigs!” Her motto was, “I’ll take this bull by the horns. Yes, it might throw me around a bit and knock me to the floor every once in a while, BUT, after everything is all said and done, I WILL BE THE ONE LEFT STANDING!”
Normal breast cells become cancerous because of changes (mutations) in DNA or because of inherited mutations. Inherited mutations are responsible for many of the cancers that run in some families and are passed down from previous generations.
Surprisingly, most DNA changes related to breast cancer are acquired in breast cells during a woman’s life rather than having been inherited. This means that while a mutation may not have been inherited, something would have triggered the mutation which could spur cancer cell formations within breast cells which usually results in tumor formation. A tumor is a mass of abnormal tissue which can either be benign – non-cancerous – or malignant – cancerous.
When a tumor is diagnosed as benign, doctors don’t usually remove or treat them unless they are causing pain or other issues (such as pressing on organs).
Malignant tumors are cancerous and aggressive because they invade and damage surrounding cells and tissue. When a tumor is suspected to be malignant, the doctor will perform a biopsy to determine the severity or aggressiveness of the tumor. If a malignant tumor has evolved to the stage of metastatic cancer, the tumor has spread to other parts of the body usually through the lymphatic system.
When dealing with breast cancer, tumors are often graded based on a scale of one to three indicating how aggressive the cancerous cells are:
Low-grade or 1 (Well-differentiated);
Intermediate grade or 2 (Moderately differentiated);
High-grade or 3 (Poorly differentiated).
Low-grade tumors look more like normal tissue under the microscope. High-grade tumors look abnormal and less like normal tissue and tend to be more aggressive.
That being said, we at Sunlighten, do have numerous cancer patients who have used our saunas and noted positive results. An article from Cancer Defeated points to the fact that full spectrum infrared saunas can help revitalize health and reverse illness because it provides whole-body hyperthermia, which is said to help kill cancer cells. These Sunlighten saunas also help eliminate toxins, further supporting the detoxing and healing process.
Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer
Prevention is the word of the day, and luckily there are many things you can do to support a happier and healthier lifestyle for yourself. According to an article from the Mayo Clinic’s website, lifestyle changes have been shown in studies to decrease breast cancer risk even in high-risk women. The following are steps you can take to lower your risk:
• Limit alcohol consumption. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. Even small amounts of alcohol can increase your risk of breast cancer.
• Be physically active. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.
• Breast-feed. Breast-feeding might play a role in breast cancer prevention, though this is obviously more difficult for men. For women, however, the longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect.
• Don’t smoke. Accumulating evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women. In addition, not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.
• Control your weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.
• Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer. If you’re taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor about other options.
• Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution. Medical-imaging methods, such as computerized tomography, use high doses of radiation. While more studies are needed, some research suggests a link between breast cancer and radiation exposure. Reduce your exposure by having such tests only when absolutely necessary.
While we have written about breast cancer awareness before, we feel it is important to highlight these statistics and methods of prevention. Cancer is not a joke – it doesn’t just affect the life of its’ host, but of the people connected to the patienthost. If the cancer isn’t difficult enough on its’ own, there are the invasive treatments used to treat breast cancer such as radiation and chemotherapy which can have dire effects on a person’s body.
The good news is the death rate of women with breast cancer has been decreasing since 1989.
Regardless, keeping and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is of the utmost importance for you and your loved ones. And remember, you can help support cancer research by donating here – 100% of the funds will go to breast cancer research!Learn more about how you can get involved with Breast Cancer Awareness all year long!