• Delainey Smith

The Importance of Breast Cancer Awareness for College Students

As many of you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM). The color pink is popping up in support of the brave women (and men) battling breast cancer. A variety of events will commence around the nation. Attendees of walks and runs in support for a cure will wear pink, landmark buildings will be illuminated in pink and the National Football League incorporates pink on the field during BCAM.

Not to undermine these genuine acts, but breast cancer awareness is more than wearing pink. It’s encouraging the women (and men) in your life to be aware of the potential signs of breast cancer.

Taking care of one’s health is rarely on a college student’s mind. Living in a world where there is a constant ability to make bad lifestyle choices, it can be difficult to keep your body on a healthy track.

College is an exciting time for any person, however, dealing with breast cancer at a young age can make the natural appeal of college completely disappear.

It is most common for women between the ages of 25 and 39 to focus on breast cancer awareness but girls as young as 15 can develop breast cancer.

The Young Survival Coalition, a breast cancer support group for young women, says breast cancer accounts for 15% of all cancer diagnoses in younger women. Breast cancer is not only possible in such young age groups, but it is typically more aggressive and younger women diagnosed typically have a lower survival rate.

Being diagnosed with breast cancer can be overwhelming at any age, but women who get diagnosed in their teens and twenties face a vast amount of unique issues that complicate an already devastating diagnosis.

So ladies, what can you do? It is important to monitor your own lifestyle choices so you can combat breast cancer before it begins. Limiting alcohol consumption and quitting smoking habits is a good place to start. According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, both access alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking has been linked to breast cancer.

Exercise is also extremely important to protect against breast cancer. The more fat in a woman’s body, the more estrogen she has. Estrogen stimulates cell overgrowth which can develop into breast cancer. An American Cancer Society study found that women who gained 21 to 30 pounds since age 18 were 40 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than those who hadn't gained more than 5 pounds.

Taking proper birth control and balancing hormone intake is a huge factor to women’s health that should be discussed with your doctor.

In addition to living an overall healthier lifestyle, Toni Mountain, survivor programs manager for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, told the Daily Emerald that getting to know your own breast is vital to a woman’s health.

Nearly 80 percent of women find breast abnormalities in themselves before diagnosis, which makes it essential for young girls to detect if there are any changes. Be familiar with your body. Notice if there are any changed in appearance or texture in your breasts and talk to your doctor.

So this is a message to all young women: Don’t ignore your body. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Donating money and wearing pink are great ways to show support, but don’t forget about what breast cancer awareness truly means.

For more information about breast cancer prevention tips click here.

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