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Pink Is For Men Too!

Pink is for Men Too

by Allison Norris

This year Breast Cancer Awareness month didn’t just have women wearing pink. We saw NFL players, hockey players and many more joining in the efforts to raise awareness in fighting Breast Cancer.

This month of pink can often overlook men’s risk for breast cancer. Although breast cancer in men accounts for only 1% of all breast cancers diagnosed annually, it has some distinct concerns warranting attention. It is generally a cancer that affects older men, usually between 60 and 70 years old.  In the past, men’s prognosis was often worse due to late detection and sometimes complete unawareness of the disease, but recently this has been changing.

The reasons men get breast cancer aren’t always apparent, as the male breast does not have as great a role in society or functional use. What some people don’t know is that much like during the female menstrual cycle, men do have regular hormonal fluctuations which affect them mentally and physically. Considering this men should do self-breast exams regularly so as to detect the subtle changes in their breast tissue.

In a study in June 2009 by U.K.’s National Cancer Intelligence Network they found men are 40% more likely to get cancer than women. Prostate cancer is the number one cancer killer in men and there is a lot of focus on that reproductive organ – perhaps letting breast tissue be all too easily overlooked in men. Just as with women early detection is key in the successful treatment.

Cancer prevention for both genders includes general healthy living such as regular exercise, eating a balanced and healthy diet, not smoking, getting proper amounts of sleep, and receiving regular preventative medical care.

Here are some tips for men (and women) to help in the prevention of breast cancer:

Self Breast Exam – as discussed already this is very important. Men should do this at least quarterly but it is recommended to set a schedule once a month on the same day to ensure you don’t forget.

Antioxidants – there is much debate about the help Lycopene and other antioxidants actually achieve in cancer prevention but consistently the data shows they do no harm. So the suggestion medically and alternatively is one of “why not? it can’t hurt and it might help.” This includes consuming foods such as tomatoes, watermelon, guava, grapefruit, dark chocolate, blueberries, and cranberries. Getting these foods in their most natural, raw form is best to capture the most potent antioxidant effect.

Supplements – Saw Palmetto is a great herb for prostate health. Black Current Seed oil is a wonderful source of Omega-6 fatty acids. This Oil has GLA (gammalinolenic acid) which in a 2004 study was shown to prevent the growth of breast cancer cells, especially in the presence of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is not only an amazing antioxidant but it has been shown to lower your breast cancer risk by 63% when taken on a regular basis from foods.

Trimming the Fat – A 2007 study out of Seattle showed that obesity in men more than doubled their odds of death in prostate cancer and that “obesity in the year before diagnosis more than tripled the odds that the cancer would metastasize.”

Trusting your body – Since early detection is key in early treatment it is essential we pay attention to the subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle signals our bodies are speaking about our health. Go for regular physicals, listen to the aches and pains, have a relationship with your doctor that is open and conversational. As a chiropractor I work with many on a more frequent basis than their medical doctors. Because of this I do have conversations about health topics other than back pain. Trust the healthcare providers in your life and ask them questions.  We are here to educate.

Continue to spread the word on Breast Cancer Awareness by doing the above, supporting your loved ones through the above tips, wearing pink, and staying educated on the subject. Go Pink!

Dr. Norris is a Doctor of Chiropractic who lives and practices in Lakewood.

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