According to the American Cancer Association, approximately 12% of women will develop breast cancer at some point in their life, making breast cancer one of the top common cancers among women, next to lung cancer. Since chances of survival are drastically increased the earlier it’s caught, it’s important to take the following steps.
When to Start Getting a Regular Mammogram
A mammogram uses x-rays to detect any breast growths even before they’re able to be seen or felt. So it’s a great tool if we want to catch cancer as early as possible.
Although past medical literature has suggested starting your yearly mammograms at ages 45 or 50, more recent guidelines from the American Cancer Society and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), suggests women could start as early as age 40. This was prompted by a recent study published in the journal Cancer, which revealed up to a 17% benefit with starting annual mammograms at age 40 versus waiting, despite the added risk that the extra radiation entails.
However, the CDC insists that starting regular screening at 40 years is a personal decision, where “women who place a higher value on the potential benefit than the potential harms may choose to begin biennial screening between the ages of 40 and 49 years” (CDC).
If breast cancer runs in your family, it may be especially worth discussing with your doctor about starting mammograms at age 40. Again, the sooner it’s caught, the better.
You can begin screening yourself for breast cancer as early as you wish. Experts say around age 20 is when women should start self-screening. Whenever you’re standing in front of your mirror, check if your breasts are the same size, color, and shape as you remember from your last self-screening. Do this first with your arms at your sides, then with your arms raised above your head.
Things to look out for:
If you notice these, or any other changes, then contact your doctor.
Next, feel for any changes. With your fingertips flat, gently press against each breast in a circular pattern, making sure to feel the entire breasts. With one arm raised, use your opposite hand to feel in the same manner. Be sure to cover the entire area, as well as the surrounding tissue.
Again, since breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, it’s worth taking the time to regularly screen yourself and to start mammography at least by the ages of 40 to 50.
The most important thing is to know your body. The more aware of and better acquainted you are with your body, the easier it will be to notice any changes. As the Greek philosopher Socrates once said, “Know thyself.” He was probably speaking about knowing your mind, but knowing thy physical shelf is equally as important. Have this conversation with the women (and men) in your life and make sure they are self-screening too!
By: Madeline Archambault
Meditation might seem like something that is reserved specifically for people who are spiritually enlightened, or people who have a lot of time on their hands. Alas, that is no longer the case! Everyone is meditating now, at least it seems that way. Meditation is a great way to center yourself and to let yourself truly relax. Don’t think you can do it? Think again.
The problem for most people is that they simply can’t find the time or can’t figure out how to do it. Meditation does take practice, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be happy you started. So, how do you get started? You don’t need to meditate for an hour right off the bat, in fact, you probably won’t even be able to do that.
“If you are just starting out, I recommend you meditate for anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes every day. You can start with even less. Maybe try it for 1 minute in the morning. And when you can sit still and relax for that long, move to 2 minutes. And then you keep increasing your time as you get comfortable with the practice,” said Morgan Dix, cofounder of AboutMeditation and The OneMind Meditation podcast, in an article he wrote for DoYouYoga.com.
Starting off in smaller increments will allow you to get used to mediation and eventually move up to a longer period of time. You might be wondering how exactly do I meditate? What am I supposed to do? The truth is, it’s different for everyone. Some people like to chant quietly, others like to be silent. However, it’s always important to let your mind and body relax. Here are five simple steps to meditation provided by Gaiam Life:
This might be difficult for beginners, but the more you practice, the better you will get. For some, apps such as OMG. I can meditate! or stop, breathe & think, will better help to guide through a meditation.
Meditation helps you to be more self aware and helps you reduce stress by eliminating, if even for five minutes, the worries of the outside world. The benefits of mediation come mainly from the reduced stress levels one experiences from meditating on a regular basis. So go on, try meditating for a little today and make some time for yourself. You deserve it.