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March 16, 2011

We need a federal breast cancer prevention plan!

Last year, the President's Cancer Panel suggested that President Obama should enact policies that will reduce or eliminate human exposure to toxic, cancer-causing chemicals... So what has he done about it so far? Hm.

Why is this so important? Let's look at the numbers:

The lifetime risk of breast cancer has gone from 1 in 20 in 1964 to 1 in 8 today. That's too high of a number. Only about 200 of the 80,000+ chemicals in commerce today have been tested for their impacts on human health. That's too low of a number.

Even some chemicals that are already known to cause cancer can be legally added to everyday products because there aren't enough policies in place to prevent this. Does anyone else see something very wrong here?

This week, the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition has asked us to sign and pass on a petition asking the government to create a national cancer prevention plan, including federal regulation of cancer-causing toxins. Please sign this petition asking President Obama to enact a policy that will help us STOP CANCER BEFORE IT STARTS. Please help the petition reach 100,000 people!

We here at the ESC, believe very strongly that the best thing we can do to stop the cancer epidemic is to concentrate on PREVENTION. More research needs to be done into what causes breast cancer... and women need to be fully informed about breast cancer symptoms - because early detection is so very important - and potential risk factors (be they genetic, environmental, behavioral, etc.).

Some potential risk factors may include:
family history/genetics
early menstruation or delayed menopause
high alcohol consumption
not having children/delaying first child
not breastfeeding
exposure to radiation or carcinogens*
This is not a fully comprehensive list. *Carcinogens are considered by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences as substances that are "known" or "reasonably anticipated" to cause cancer. There are currently over 200 accepted or anticipated cancer-causing agents - and probably many more that have yet to be tested or verified.

This is why it is so important for the government to enforce stricter rules on chemicals - including increased testing. So please sign the petition!

In the meantime, please everyone, this is so important... Inform yourselves of the known (and even just potential) carcinogens and avoid them whenever possible. Do whatever you can to minimize your chances of getting breast cancer by becoming aware of the risk factors. And remember that early detection is key to beating cancer (or dealing with precancerous cells) so please do self-breast exams, have your doctor do breast exams on you regularly, make an appointment for a mammogram. And please inform yourself of all and any possible symptoms.

Some common signs of breast cancer may include:
a lump or mass in your breast
swelling in your breast
swelling in an underarm lymph node
skin indenting, inflamation, redness, thickness or scaliness
nipple retraction or thickening
nipple discharge (non-milk) or blood
breast or nipple pain or tenderness
change in size or shape of your breast
(These is not a fully comprehensive list. Please do your own reading and fully inform yourself! Clicking on any of the links provided in this blog entry is a good jumping off point for your own breast cancer research and self-education.)

And most importantly - be your own medical advocate. Too often women are afraid to go to the doctor when they notice signs that something is wrong. Or they are too quick to dismiss their symptoms as "no big deal". (Or even worse, their doctors are too quick to dismiss their symptoms as "no big deal"!)

No matter how terrifying or intimidating it might be to suspect that you have symptoms of breast cancer, do not ignore them and don't let anyone else push you around. Your health (and your life) is your responsibility - if the people around you aren't giving it the attention it deserves - make them!

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