Are You at Risk for Breast Cancer?

Woman and doctor discussing about medical treatment.

You know some of the most common risk factors for breast cancer: being female, being 45 or older, having a history of breast or ovarian cancer or being closely related to someone who does. But did you know the lotion you use, your water bottle and the containers you put your leftovers in could put you at risk for cancer? Did you know not knowing your own body could cause you to miss a warning sign for cancer?

Hidden Risk #1

Chemicals that can cause cancer are called carcinogens. Read labels on your food and hygiene products. Avoid common carcinogens like:

  • Bisphenol A (BPA) found in many hard plastic items like water bottles and plastic containers
  • Parabens and phthalates in cosmetics like lotion, shampoo or makeup
  • Secondhand smoke and car exhaust fumes

All of these chemicals can increase your chances of developing certain cancers. Additionally, BPA can harm your reproductive, immune and neurological systems and increase your risk of Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and metabolic disease. Parabens have been linked with harmful disruptions to hormones in the body and can affect your fertility, reproductive organs and birth outcomes. Phthalates have been shown to cause harm to reproductive, neurological and developmental systems in humans.

Hidden Risk #2

If you’re not familiar with your body, you’re at risk. In the shower, getting dressed, wherever, make a habit to check your breasts and the rest of your body regularly.

If You Find Any of These in Your Body, You Need To See Your Doctor This Week:

Even If You’re Not at a Higher Risk, Get Checked Out Regularly!

Talk with your doctor about screenings (either your primary care provider (PCP) or your Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN)). Breast cancer can start without noticeable symptoms. Mammograms often find a lump before you would.

When Should You Get Screened?

Everybody and every body is different.  Make yearly appointments to see your primary care provider and talk to them about if you’ll need more tests. Breast cancer can begin with no symptoms. Regular screenings are your best bet at catching it early.

You Already Know What Else To Do To Help Prevent Cancers:

  • Avoid smoking, vaping or other nicotine use
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Drink enough water every day
  • Eat meals high in plants and whole grains (2/3) with less meat and dairy (1/3 or less)
  • Limit highly processed foods
  • Exercise for at least three to five hours per week
  • Limit alcohol
  • Reduce stress and practice self-care

BCBSND offers online therapy, a digital wellness center and more to use to help you find your healthiest lifestyle. These tools are on our website and our app (use the code BLUEND to get started). If you're already a member, log into your account to continue or start a new program. This program is offered at NO COST to those (ages 13 and up) enrolled in a BCBSND health plan.

Use Our Helpful Preventive Care Calendar To Help You Monitor Your Health:

Remember, Breast Cancer Affects Us All

Anyone can develop breast cancer, not just women. But for women, breast cancer is the second-most common cancer. Catching breast cancer early is your best chance at beating it. And you’ll do that with knowledge and preventive screenings.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, American Cancer Society, WebMD

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