Beyond the Pink: Preventing Breast Cancer in College

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the pink ribbon is all over campus. From fundraisers and campaigns to the limited edition articles of clothing, there is a lot of talk about awareness. Amidst all of this pink, it is easy to forget the true purpose of these campaigns: to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Unfortunately, almost everyone can say they are close with someone who has been affected by breast cancer. Research from the National Cancer Institute has found that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. With numbers like these, the focus needs to start shifting from awareness to prevention.

While awareness has made a huge impact, the likelihood of a women developing breast cancer demonstrates the need to start coming up with tools to lower our risk and prevent future generations from developing this disease. As college students, it is easy to forget why prevention and taking care of yourself is important when the midterms coming up next week or your weekend plans are dominating your thoughts. Prevention is the next step in the fight against breast cancer, and October is a great time to reevaluate your lifestyle habits.

This October, pledge to actively take care of your health and lower your lifetime chances of developing breast cancer. Prevent your exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment now and reduce your future risk.  Healthy and preventative habits need to start early, and here are 5 easy tips to help you lead a healthier lifestyle on campus and reduce your breast cancer risk:

1.     Get a Reusable Water Bottle That is BPA Free. BPA is one of the major chemicals linked to breast cancer. As research is starting to prove the consequences of consuming BPA, items containing BPA are being pulled off the shelves and removed from products.

2.     Don’t Reuse Plastic Disposable Bottles. BPA in plastic water bottles can seep into the liquid if they are reused over and over again. Opt for the first option if you want to save money and reduce your risk of exposure!

3.     Never Use Plastic Containers to Heat Up Food in the Microwave. Many of the same chemicals in water bottles are present in other plastic containers. When these containers are heated up in the microwave, the toxic chemicals can leach into the food. Always use a glass container when heating up food. If you have to, borrow one from the dining hall.

4.     Be Conscientious of Chemicals in Cosmetics. A lot of mainstream products contain chemicals, and it is always a good idea to try and cut back on exposure. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetics safety database is a great resource to see where your products fall.

5.     Stay Active. Making healthy eating choices and staying active are two easy things that will help reduce your overall risk as well as make you feel better, especially during finals when stress is running high!

Although the majority of breast cancer cases are diagnosed in women, there are an increasing amount of men’s cases starting to be seen as well. So, boys, start following these tips too! As you see pink ribbons throughout the month, remember the importance of prevention and leading a healthy lifestyle.

For more information about prevention, check out the Breast Cancer Fund’s website.

 

Image via Airman 1st Class Ashley Reed / Wikimedia Commons

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