Breast cancer - how to find it early and limit the risk of it

- This month, you'll likely be seeing pink everywhere with the goal of getting breast cancer prevention on our minds. One in eight women will be diagnosed. 

The good news now, though, is that we know more about this disease than ever before, and how to catch it early and lower the risk of getting it. 

"Eighty percent of the time, breast cancer just happens. There's no particular reason for it. The other 20 percent, those women have what appears to be a familial predisposition, but of those 20 percent only 5 to 10 percent have an identifiable gene," says Dr. Jessica Bensenhaver. She's the director of Henry Ford's Breast Cancer Program. 

She says that mammograms, the X-ray of the breast, is still the gold standard when it comes to detecting breast cancer. It's not perfect - it misses about 13 percent of cancers - so that's why knowing your own body helps, too. 

"The most important thing is being proactive, so, self-breast exams, also to start your annual screening. We recommend starting at 40," she says. Early detection is the key to higher survival, 

So, what can you do to control your risk of getting breast cancer? 

Maintain a healthy weight. In post-menopausal women, obesity leads to a 20 to 40 percent increase in breast cancer risk. 

Exercising daily also lowers risk. 

Also be aware of HRT risks. Talk to your doctor about the link between hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer.

Another big one is to count your cocktails. 

"Multiple studies have shown an associated risk [with alcohol]. In fact, they say one drink per day can increase your risk by about 5 percent. More than one drink a day can actually increase it even more," Dr. Bensenhaver says. "What I usually tell patients is that, just do everything in moderation. You want to live a healthy lifestyle; you want to minimize those things we know we can control. If you want to have a glass of wine, have a glass of wine; just don't do it every day."

The good news is, we continue to learn more about finding, treating and preventing breast cancer. 

We're getting ready for the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Again Breast Cancer. It's October 13 at Hart Plaza downtown to raising awareness and funds for research.

For more information, click here. 

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