As October has begun, our regular routines have become reestablished, the leaves have started to change color, temperatures have cooled a bit, and before we have realized it, we have bid farewell to summer and opened our doors to fall. October marks the autumn season with fall fashions springing forward and Halloween lurking around the corner, but more importantly, this month celebrates women’s health and recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness. I’m sure you’ve gathered that at Honet Dermatology and Cosmetic, if we were asked to choose two things we absolutely love to do here around our office, it would be empowering women and celebrating beauty, inside and out. So it won’t be surprising to most of you that Breast Cancer Awareness is definitely at the top of our list.
As everyone knows, the pink ribbon is instantly recognizable. I was intrigued to learn that a beauty industry pioneer and paragon Estée Lauder launched the original pink ribbon, which ever since, has become the universal symbol for breast health. Nearly 24 years ago, the Estée Lauder Companies launched the first national Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign (BCA).
This Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, now almost a quarter of a century old, has remained the campaign with which we are familiar today. Consistent with the original intent, its mission is devoted to spreading awareness and defeating breast cancer through research and education. Bringing together the friends and families of survivors with the survivors themselves, the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign has reached people across the world, making tremendous strides by fostering awareness, raising funds, and inspiring the fight against breast cancer. Organizations like BreastCancer.org, National Breast Cancer Foundation, Susan G. Komen® Foundation, and Pink Ribbon International are committed to not only supporting women with breast cancer and their families, but to also finding a cure. In addition, numerous beauty brands of the Estée Lauder Companies launch “Pink Ribbon” products during the month of October, where the proceeds of sales are donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Many other beauty and skincare companies do the same in support of this amazing institution; so use this month as an excuse to stock up on some of your favorite pink-ribbon beauty products decorated with that splash of pink.
Breast cancer is currently the second highest cause of death in women (the first being heart disease). The likelihood of you or someone you love developing breast cancer is very high, currently the statistic being 1 in 8 women. This translates to many women being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. We all know someone who has found herself face to face with breast cancer, affecting not only the individual, but every member of her loving family as well. Alongside the BCA Campaign by Estée Lauder, there are many other campaigns and foundations, such as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, American Cancer Society, National Breast Cancer Foundation, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation that are working relentlessly year-round to raise awareness and make progress towards the cure for breast cancer. In addition to incredible fund-raising and tremendous research efforts, these foundations provide continuous support for individuals affected by breast cancer. According to the Center for Disease Control, early detection is key, so mammograms and clinical breast exams are imperative, and should be done annually. Alongside your doctor’s breast examinations, the National Breast Cancer Foundation recommends that women conduct self-breast exams regularly to check for any lumps, bumps, suspicious lesions, or skin changes on the breasts. It is best to do these exams at the same time every month to gain familiarity with one’s own “normal” breast tissue, so that the “abnormal” becomes apparent.
It is true that genetic and environmental risk factors may increase one’s risk of breast cancer, but 60-70% of diagnosed individuals do not meet the risk-factor criteria. As with any disease, environmental factors may play a significant role affecting one’s general health and well-being, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, increased body weight, smoking, and excess alcohol consumption, which all contribute to an increased risk of breast cancer. In addition, genetics and family history play an important role in breast cancer. Research has found that individuals that carry a mutation on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene have an increased risk for breast cancer. Whether or not you carry this mutated gene is determined by genetic testing, and individuals with these mutations can pass on the mutation to their children. It is essential to see and be evaluated by your doctor, take the necessary precautions, and maintain preventative care, especially if breast cancer runs in your family.
The good news about breast cancer is that preventative care and early detection are saving lives of women. Also, if you were or someone you love was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, it is important to know you’re not alone. The Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign has not only spread the word about this important disease, but has galvanized the establishment of numerous breast-cancer resources of support and assistance across the country. So for this month of October, show your support for Breast Cancer Awareness by getting your mammograms, educating yourself and those you love, and simply wearing a pink ribbon. Remember that knowledge is power. So spread the word.
–Senada with Dr. Honet