Pink Up report: Breast cancer prevention for young women

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Breast cancer affects one in eight people every year, with the majority being over 50 years in age.

But that doesn't mean that younger women- and men- should not be aware of the cancer and how to prevent it.

"You'd be surprised how many women don't know how to do proper breast exams," said Dr. Mike Cheng of the Forrest General Cancer Center. "You should know your breasts. You should say, 'Hey, this lump has always been there, but this lump is new,' then we can focus on there."

Monthly self-breast exams can be done easily in the shower., and regular visits to an OBGYN are also important for women starting at 18 years old. Cheng said a healthy lifestyle is the most controllable way to prevent breast cancer.

"I would behoove not to drink more than one drink per day, keep your diet, and don't smoke."

Cheng said that more than one alcoholic drink each day can increase chances of breast cancer by 12 percent. Gaining more than 55 pounds after 18 years old increases chances by 50 percent, and smoking increases chances by 12 percent.

"Diet plays an important role in breast cancer," said Cheng.

Younger women's breasts are different than older women's.

"The fat is different than your mother's fat," explained Cheng. "As they get older, the breast gets softer."

Cheng said that if breast cancer does appear at a younger age, it's more aggressive.

"It's the most aggressive type because you have all the body, all the estrogen going on and everything," he explained.

According to the American Cancer Society, Mississippi has one of the lowest rates of breast cancer deaths for non-Hispanic whites and one of the highest for African Americans. If breast cancer runs in the family, chances are greater that you will be affected, which is why Dr. Cheng encourages all women and men, no matter the age, to know and take care of their bodies.

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