By Vera Viner
Cancer prevention seems like such a basic tenet of keeping men and women healthy, but it seems to be left in the dust over and over again. Within the breast cancer community, women are again and again reminded to perform monthly self-exams and get mammograms every year past age 40 instead of pushing forward exercise or advising against oral contraceptives. We’re also instructed to wear pink ribbons for those who’ve suffered from the disease. And every October, corporations across the United States play into breast cancer awareness campaigns without giving any thought to whether their own products may be linked to cancer.
The Huffington Post reported on one young woman, Heather, who was diagnosed with this disease at 21 years of age. Heather, a firefighter, believes there are toxic chemicals present in burning buildings that may be linked to cancer. Another woman who lost her mother to the malady says that the government and corporations need to wake up and see to it that our foods and products we use are free of toxic chemicals tied to cancer.
The reality of breast cancer is much more grim and dark than the month of October poses it to be. From the NFL football fields to television talk shows and grocery aisles, all we see is pink and more pink, but this is not the real truth of the disease. Despite all of this awareness, the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer has not slipped one bit. Today, one in eight women will be diagnosed with the condition at some point in their lives.
How can we actually get these numbers to go down? Why, breast cancer prevention, of course. Let’s make sure that lawmakers keep companies from putting toxic chemicals into our food and products. In addition, we need to ensure more funding goes into cancer prevention research.
We need to start taking care of women around the globe. According to theTranslational Global Health blog, mass screening programs like Pap smears are nearly nonexistent in many parts of India. Within the country, Pap smears are considered embarrassing and any woman who seeks one is thought to be sexually active. This in itself discourages women and hurts the preventive programs in the nation.
Even physicians who work in health camps target mainly married women for Pap smears because there is a cultural stigma that claims only these women are at risk of cervical cancer. Married women are also often busy raising children and working to address any health concerns until it may be too late. Additionally, scaling screening methods to cover the entire population of India may prove impossible financially.
These type of problems are truly awful and all women around the world should both receive cancer screenings as well as become educated on cancer prevention strategies. Awareness of breast cancer or any other kind can only do so much. We know these diseases exist. We know they’re horrific. Now it’s time to do something about it.