Help make strides against breast cancer

Thursday, October 8, 2009

If you are a NFL fan you probably noticed the pink cap bills, gloves, arm and wrist bands, cleats and ribbons many of the professional football players, coaches and staff members have been wearing this month. NFL referees and each team's cheerleaders are also sporting pink game apparel to promote October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. At the end of the month, all of the gear worn at games by players and coaches will be auctioned off at www.nflauction.nfl.com and proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society (ACS) and other team charities.

In addition to sporting pink gear, the NFL has implemented a new campaign called "A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives," which is designed to educate, raise funds and encourage volunteerism in the fight against breast cancer. Through the NFL website, which is www.nfl.com, the organization is also offering links to the ACS's mammogram reminder messaging assistant, the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk-a-thon campaign and information on donating time to assist those battling breast cancer and speaking out on behalf of those who cannot afford mammograms and other lifesaving cancer treatments.

Breast cancer remains the most common cancer among women in the United States. Although the death rate from the disease continues to drop, a new ACS report shows that not all women are benefitting equally from strides that have been made in breast cancer research. For this reason, the ACS is working to redouble its efforts to ensure that all women have access to information that can help them reduce their risk and resources to ensure early detection and treatment.

In an effort to decrease the number of breast cancer cases in the United States and further increase survival rates, ACS has released the following list of recommendations that can help women lower their breast cancer risk:

* Maintain a healthy diet to help control weight. Studies have shown that being overweight or obese may increase breast cancer risks.

* Get regular exercise. ACS recommends women participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, five or more days each week. More exercise may further reduce breast cancer risk.

* Limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day. Alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

* ACS also recommends women who are at least 40 years old receive yearly mammograms, and all women should receive yearly breast exams. Women are also encouraged to perform monthly breast self exams and talk to their doctor if they notice any changes in their breasts or have any concerns.

It is amazing that the NFL has stepped up to help in the fight against breast cancer. Men and women across the United States will receive additional reminders about the fight against this disease each week when they tune in to watch their favorite team. Now it is up to each one of us to do our part to become educated, lower our risks and volunteer and donate to help others who are battling this disease. According to the ACS report, about 15,000 breast cancer deaths were avoided in 2009. Let's work to make that at least 30,000 in 2010.

Lindsay Reed