I have a love-hate relationship with “Breast Cancer Awareness” month. And now you might have a love-hate relationship with me (HA!), but kindly hear me out, okay?
If a breast-cancer diagnosis were like the Hunger Games, the odds would be ever in your favor. Right now 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. We’ve all been touched by a diagnosis whether it’s been a friend, a sister, an aunt, a mother, or even worse, YOU.
Why I Advocate for Prevention Over Awareness
I kind of feel like we’re plenty “AWARE” at this stage in the game. And because I’m a solutions-based kind of gal, I’m over here like, “Okay, but how do we fix this?!” Which is why you’ll hear me talking all month long about “Breast Cancer Prevention” rather than “Awareness.”
There are absolutely things we can do to either reduce our risk or catch abnormalities early on, and so that’s what I focus on and advocate for: empowering and equipping women like you with simple, practical information so you can reduce your exposure and #liveyourbestlife.
But Isn’t There a Genetic Link?
Sure! You’re absolutely correct. But if that’s your scapegoat, I want to direct you toward information from the queen of pink, Susan G. Komen, which states, “In the U.S., 5-10 percent of breast cancers are related to an inherited gene mutation.” You can check out the article here.
Only 5-10 percent! What about the remaining 90-95% of women?
The short answer is, environmental toxins. But sometimes I hear that statement thrown around like confetti. And I think a lot of people are still over here like, “I’ll see your environmental toxins and raise you a ‘what the heck does that actually mean?’” Am I right?
What are Environmental Toxins?
My early 90s childhood has always caused me to connect the word “environment” to my pal Captain Planet. I mean, he’s our hero, gonna take pollution down to zero. But it also caused me to associate the word “environment” with things like air and water pollution. You too? Well, I want you to think less globally, and start thinking more locally when you hear the word “environment. “
Your Body is an Environment
Each of us is a walking, talking, living environment. And there’s no more perfect example of this than pregnancy: every choice you make—the food you eat, the places you go, the medications you choose, etc.—affect that growing human.
You are an environment! And just as you affect a growing human, you also affect yourself.
Think of the food you eat, where you work, the products you use to clean your home, or the products you put on your body. All of these things have an impact on your “environment.”
Okay, cool, so we’ve got the “big environment”—lakes, streams, air, etc.—but we’ve also got the “small environment”—our bodies, our homes we live in, our workplaces etc.
Now Let’s Talk “Toxins”
Whether you like it or not, we’re surrounded by thousands of chemicals every single day. Over 80,000 chemicals are currently registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (aka the EPA). And 3,000 of those chemicals have been identified as “high production volume,” meaning we’re in contact with them on the regular.
But, you wanna know something a little scary about those 3,000 chemicals? Fewer than 20% of them have been screened for long-term safety.
Yes, you read that right! We’re kind of participating in a great big science experiment, my friends. And what we’re discovering is that many of those chemicals are known or potential carcinogens, meaning they do, or can, cause cancer.
I don’t tell you these things to scare you, and I certainly don’t believe that all chemicals are bad. I simply feel that we’re not taking the safety of chemicals seriously enough, and I absolutely believe it is impacting our health.
I’m all about simplification, you guys. Cuz we’re all busy and ain’t nobody got time to slow down and fall down the giant rabbit hole. But if you’re like me, you also want to be informed and understand the big issues so you can advocate for yourself and your family.
So to Come Full Circle…
What is an environmental toxin? It’s a chemical that causes sickness or disease in the human body.
Now Can I Ask You a Question?
Now that we know genetics are a fraction of the causes of breast-cancer diagnosis, and environmental toxins are absolutely a contributor, can you better understand why I advocate for prevention over awareness?
Awareness feels like shouting, “There’s a fire over here!” And prevention feels like, “I’m going to put out the fire, but also do everything I can to keep a fire from happening in the first place.”
And so, I hate to leave you hanging with the most important portion of this conversation dangling in front of you. But I’m coming back at ya with a part 2: everything you can do to reduce your risk and hopefully prevent your own breast cancer diagnosis.
Because as sad as it is to realize, no one is more concerned about your long-term health and wellness than you are. And reducing your exposure to environmental toxins is one of the greatest ways you can also prevent a breast-cancer diagnosis.