Angelina Jolie's cancer scare and decision to have a preventive double mastectomy has started a nationwide discussion about the importance of women's health care and cancer prevention. Watch this video to find out what Angelina's genetic mutation means, if you're a candidate for genetic testing, and steps you can take to reduce your risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Today, Angelina Jolie announced in a New York Times op-ed piece that she underwent a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery as a preventative measure. Because she inherited a certain "faulty" gene, her risk of breast or ovarian cancer — which her mother died from — was very high.
Mutations in these genes, called BRCA1 and BRCA2, are the most common cause of hereditary breast cancer, which tend to strike younger women. Angelina's risk, which she said was over 80 percent, is typical in many who carry one of these gene mutations. BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are also associated with a high risk of ovarian cancer.
Angelina's difficult decision is one many people who have a high hereditary risk of breast cancer make, since opting for preventative surgery can reduce your risk to much lower levels; post-mastectomy, Angelina says that her breast cancer risk is now under five percent. Last year, for example, Miss America contestant Allyn Rose spoke about her decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy after the pageant because of her high hereditary risk. In 2008, actress Christina Applegate opted for a double mastectomy, after being diagnosed with cancer in one breast, since testing found that she carried the BRCA1 mutation.
The only way to know if you carry these gene mutations is to get a specific blood test. There are certain patterns that make it more likely that you have these mutations, such as two first-degree relatives (like your mom, daughter, or sister) having breast cancer before age 50, a combination of first- and second-degree relatives (such as a grandmother or aunt) being diagnosed with either breast or ovarian cancer, a first-degree relative diagnosed with cancer in both breasts, or a male relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer. The patterns for those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, who have a higher risk of inheriting BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, are different; get the risk pattern lists for everyone here. If an immediate family member is diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, they are often tested to see if they carry the gene; if they do, you can also undergo testing to see if you also have the mutation. Making the decision to see if you've inherited this gene mutation, and what to do about it, can be difficult; the National Cancer Institute suggests genetic counseling before and after your blood test to help you make the right decision for you and your family.
While you can't change your genetic risk for getting breast cancer, there are some lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk; read our list of 10 things you can do to help prevent breast cancer here.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time when women around the globe get together to stand up for the cause. A-listers like Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Miley Cyrus have taken the stage too, putting on their sneakers for charity walks or partying in pink.
You can get involved, too, whether it's cooking for the cause or by informing yourself and your loved ones about ways to prevent the disease. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, click through the pics of top celebs showing their support.
Thanks to National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we've run marathons, read books, and purchased products to fight the illness. As October winds down, we thought we'd take one more opportunity to discuss how important our breasts are by revisiting their storied history. Whether we've tried to get rid of them using chest flatteners in the 1920s, witnessed "Nipplegate" in 2004, or taken part in the evolution of bras, their significance hasn't drooped one bit.
There are several risk factors that can increase your chances of developing breast cancer. And while the risk increases as we age, there are certain preventative measures every women should do, whether she's in her 20s or in her mammogram years, to help reduce her risk of getting the disease. Read on for 10 things every women should do to help prevent breast cancer.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing breast cancer because fat cells produce small amounts of estrogen, which can fuel some cancers.
- Check up on your family history. How many people in your family have had breast cancer? If you don't know, now's the time to check. Having close family members who developed breast cancer increases your risk as well since certain risk factors are genetic.
- Don't be a stranger to your girls. Self breast exams may not have been given a ringing endorsement from the medical community, but you should still be familiar with how your breasts feel and look so you'll notice any changes.
- Drink in moderation. While that glass of red is good for you, excessive alcohol drinking has been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Stick to a one-a-day mantra if you want to reduce your risk.
- Keep exercising. Not only will working out help you maintain a healthy weight, exercising itself has been shown to reduce your risk of developing cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends 45 to 60 minutes of exercise, five times a week.
Read on to find out five more things you should do right now to help prevent breast cancer.
If you've been noticing more ads about boobs lately or spotting NFL players wearing pink ribbons, it's because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Sadly, one in eight women will be affected by breast cancer during their lives. While you can show your support by buying certain (pink) products or doing a 5K run, one of the easiest things you can do is get informed. Whether you know someone who has breast cancer, you're going through it yourself, or you'd simply like to learn more, we've gathered 12 of the best books on the topic. Like the experience itself, some are heavy, some uplifting, some funny, but each offer insight into courageous women battling cancer.
In the midst of all the pink products, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a great time to assess how your lifestyle affects your breast cancer risk. And while there are many environmental or genetic factors that can be out of your control, sometimes our regular habits can be the culprit as well. To help reduce your risk of breast cancer, here are three daily habits that you can eliminate from your life now.
Too little sleep: Your up-all-night antics may be making it hard to concentrate at work, but that's not the only reason to hit the hay a few hours earlier. A recent study found that maintaining quality sleep habits can reduce your risk of developing an aggressive form of breast cancer, so make sure you're getting enough Z's with our tips on how to get more sleep.
That third glass of wine: A glass of red wine a day has been proven to (thankfully) have many disease-fighting properties, but going overboard can have the opposite effect. A recent study found that drinking seven to 14 drinks a week (from one to two a day) increases your risk of developing breast cancer by up to 60 percent. Stick to your one-a-day glass, and switch to water after you're done.
Too much couch time: Relaxing after a long day at work is a much-needed part of anyone's day, but if you find yourself making excuses to skip workouts for more sedentary plans, then you may be increasing your risk of breast cancer. Not only does obesity increase your risk of developing the disease, but also, exercise has proven to reduce your risk as well. If your couch time is getting excessive, then make time for a few minutes of heart-raising calorie burn with these fast full-body workout ideas.
When buying products, reading labels may be one of the best ways to figure out if something contains chemicals that you'd rather avoid. But a study released earlier this year found chemicals in many everyday products that may increase your risk of developing cancer or disrupt reproduction, and many of those chemicals weren't listed on product labels. As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to revisit the findings of the study to help make us more aware of hidden risks.
Partly funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, tested 213 commercial products in 50 different categories. The study included many popular consumer products, including "alternative" products marketed as being safer and more eco-friendly.
The results were worrying; the study found that the products contained high levels of chemicals that have been linked to higher breast cancer risk, reproduction and growth problems, and asthma — even in those alternative products thought to be safer — including BPA, parabens, glycol ether, triclosan, and synthetic fragrances. And since many of these chemicals weren't listed on product labels, it can be hard for people to tell how much of a possibly unsafe chemical is in their favorite brands.
Want to know which types of products to try to avoid? Read on for the list.
Breast Cancer Awareness month means rose-colored cosmetics and pink ribbons everywhere, but some BCA buys are more giving than others. This year, we're highlighting our favorite pink products that donate at least 20 percent of proceeds to breast cancer charities in October. From perfume to blush, these are easy ways to think pink — and to give back.
In honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we're paying tribute to some of the celebrities who fought the disease in a very public way. We applaud both the courage of these women and the efforts they have made in speaking out for the cause.