My sister’s story

The American Cancer Society says one in eight women will get breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society says one in eight women will get breast cancer. One in 36 women will die from it. While these statistics are scary, breast cancer death rates are actually going down, which is very good news. Early detection is behind the success. There are some women, however, who have a higher risk of getting breast cancer. They may carry a gene or have a family history that predisposes them to getting breast cancer, which is the second leading cancer killer of women. You can minimize your risk of getting breast cancer by adopting a healthy lifestyle. An oncologist with Norton Healthcare told me to maintain an ideal body weight or normal body mass index, exercise regularly, minimize alcohol consumption, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and take 1,000 to 2,000 IUs of vitamin D daily. The latest thing I heard is a recommendation that women at high risk for breast cancer talk with their doctor about taking medication to prevent it. A new study shows that these drugs may reduce the risk of breast cancer by up to 56 percent. Wow! There is a drawback though. The drugs can increase the risk for stroke and blood clots, and have some side effects. These drugs are currently used to prevent a recurrence of breast cancer in women who’ve already had it. This recommendation came from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). USPSTF says doctors should discuss the drugs — tamoxifen and raloxifene — with women ages 40 to 70 whose odds of developing breast cancer in the next five years are 3 percent or greater. Are you at greater risk? This is certainly something you and your doctor should talk about.


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