October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and "pink ribbon" products are flooding the market once again. Even the White House did its bit for breast cancer awareness, complete with pink lighting! Why all the fuss surrounding breast cancer, you may ask yourself?
It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women, and beside skin cancer, the top cancer for females in the US. One in eight women get breast cancer across America, but thanks to ongoing research their chances of surviving it are getting better all the time.
Before you rush to buy any breast cancer support products though, take a minute to research the company selling them. Breast cancer support watchdog Breast Cancer Action warns that selling support products is not always as charitable as it seems at first sight, and calls attention to a practice called pinkwashing, where companies are "using the color pink and pink ribbons to indicate a company has joined the search for a breast cancer cure and to invoke breast cancer solidarity, even when the company may be using chemicals linked to cancer."
Many products are totally legitimately supporting breast cancer research though, so take a minute to hit Google before you buy. You could also support breast cancer charities directly by making a donation to their bank accounts on the occasion of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And, while you're at it, take some time to consider whether you need to get a mammogram yourself.
Regularly self-check your breasts for any unusual lumps (and that goes for men, too!), and be even more aware if you have a family history of breast cancer. A new study published in the journal Cancer reveals that women who carry the breast cancer genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, might benefit from starting this screening earlier than other women. Women with these gene mutations have a higher risk of getting breast cancer from radiation is small compared to the risk of dying from breast cancer if you don't get screening.
"The risk of getting breast cancer from radiation is small compared to the risk of dying from breast cancer if you don't get screening. It's an acceptable tradeoff," said Carol Fabian, who specializes in breast cancer research at the University of Kansas.