Healthy lifestyles alone may not reduce risk of breast cancer

Health

SAMMAMISH, Wash. (NewsNation Now) — Health coach and certified nutritionist Deborah Enos practices what she preaches. She eats right, exercises, meditates, and always finds time to laugh, but after a life and career dedicated to making healthy choices, Enos recently received some unexpected news.

“I got a call on September 1 from the doctor who said I hate to tell you this but you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and I literally dropped the phone,” Enos said.

Enos, 55, has been getting regular mammograms since she was 40. Her cancer, at diagnosis, was stage zero and considered noninvasive.

Enos was now one of the more than 250,000 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tragically, it’s estimated 42,000 will die.

“Part of me was just really angry and really mad,” Enos said. “I felt I was doing everything I could to control any risk factor so this really hit me by such surprise.”

There are things women can do to reduce their risk of breast cancer:

  • Healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Not smoking
  • Limit alcohol intake

Despite the things women can control, most women are still at risk.

“80% of women are in the average risk category which means they don’t have a family history of breast cancer,” said Dr. Mary Ann Bauman.

Dr. Bauman says the most important thing all women can do is get screened.

“We really think the reason the death rate has decreased since 1980 is because of better treatments and when we do mammography then we get to treatment earlier. We find it earlier,” said Dr. Bauman.

She said the age women should get their first mammogram varies.

“It’s never clear cut, but the American Cancer Society recommends started at age 45,” Dr. Bauman said. “Some start recommending at age 40 every one to two years then, and then after age 50 for sure get your screening done.”

If women feel a lump in their breast they should have it checked by their doctor.

In less than two weeks, Enos underwent two lumpectomies to remove cancerous breast tissue. She got another call this week from her doctor saying they didn’t get all the cancer out.

She’s now considering a mastectomy, which is surgery to remove the whole breast.

Despite the difficult news, Enos considers the timing a blessing.

“I would say a mammogram has saved my life,” said Enos. “If I’d waited another year my doctor said I could have easily been at stage one or stage two, which would have involved chemotherapy.”

Enos’ life motto is:

Don’t let your circumstances determine your level of joy.

DEBORAH ENOS

She is determined to give this fight all she’s got.

“I have learned early detection is just the most important thing you can possibly do,” Enos said. “I want to tell all my friends, don’t be scared to get a mammogram even in this season of COVID. If you can get a manicure you can get a mammogram so it’s about the same exposure and probably takes about the same amount of time.”

Experts say a mammogram can sometimes detect cancer up to three years before it can be felt.

Dr. Bauman said it is normal for women who are newly diagnosed to feel scared and afraid, but the decision to make the fight with all you have is important. The mind-body connection can be a powerful thing in overcoming this disease.

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