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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: How Are You Taking Action?

Those of us in the business of employee health and wellbeing often utilize monthly “health observance” calendars to designate a focus on a certain condition, disease or preventive measure.

This means it’s time to remind employers that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. However, instead of simply reminding you to build awareness, I’m asking you: what is your workplace DOING to take action? This year, I’m challenging you to re-name October to Breast Cancer ACTION month! Read on to learn about the latest research and some creative initiatives for you bring to your employees.

Take note of the following facts:

  • Breast cancer is the 2nd most deadly cancer in women
  • 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. By the end of 2017, we expect 252,000 new cases, and sadly over 40,000 will die from the disease. And, yes, men do get breast cancer, although only about 1% of breast cancers occur in men.
  • The good news is that: Breast cancer death rates dropped from 1989 to 2007, with that number continuing to decline in women over 50 and staying steady with those under 50. The decreases are believed to be a result of better treatments, earlier screening and increased awareness.

What’s new in screening and treatment?

  • Advances in drug and holistic treatments are constantly emerging. Biosimilar medicines in the treatment pipeline are also promising, but at present very expensive. Testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes is warranted for many women due to family history, but counseling to interpret the results is critical.
  • Studies show that awareness and updated education for both patient and provider is needed. Experts warn that genetic testing isn’t happening for many at-risk women and “when we don’t test these patients and we don’t find those mutations we basically miss a chance to save lives”.
  • Dietary supplements, the effects of exercise and weight are also being examined to see if they might play a role in reducing the risk of breast cancer. New research has emerged about the roles linoleic acid, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins B6 and D may play in reducing the risk.
  • There is a continued great “unknown” as to what causes breast cancer in each individual, however preventive strategies that include healthy choices and actively avoiding known carcinogens are still recommended.
  • On-going studies such as the “Sister Study” which looks at 10,000 women who have a sister with breast cancer will hopefully help to determine cause. For more information on the Sister Study visit their website: sisterstudy.org.

How Can You Take Action in October?

Promote the following American Cancer Society recommended “Risk Reducers”:

  • Ages 40-49- talk to MD about mammogram frequency and family history
  • Ages 50+ get a mammogram every two years
  • All ages- perform regular breast self-exams
  • Share the five ways to reduce cancer risk

How Can You Promote Awareness in Your Workplace?

  • Hold a Pink Out- Pick three consecutive days for everyone in the company to wear pink. You’ll also want to provide information, handouts, and email blasts and remind employees to share this information with their loved ones.
  • Purchase promo items to draw awareness- wrist bands, headbands, ribbons, decals, magnets or other promotional items to remind employees of screening, testing, and prevention
  • Hold a “Tell-A-Friend” Tuesday campaign- Encourage women and men to ask their female friends and family members if they’ve had a mammogram
  • Play “Breast Cancer Bingo” or “Wordsearch”- create Bingo or Wordsearch cards that use prevention strategy words, such as screening, mammogram, healthy eating, exercise, family history
  • Sponsor a Pink Walk during October- employees wear pink and walk together  on a given date, to promote awareness; employees can donate loose change until the date of the walk and then make a donation to support breast cancer research

Link to resources:

www.breastcancer.org
www.healthfinder.gov
www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer

It’s true that “action speaks louder than words” and in the case of making continued progress towards a world without breast cancer, it’s time to act! Contact your OneDigital representative for additional information on how you might implement some of these strategies into your wellness plan.

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