October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Each year, the month is used as an annual, worldwide health campaign to boost awareness and raise funds for research into the cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure of the disease. You might notice local football teams donning pink socks and uniforms, 5k races with a pink theme, or schools and workplaces holding “wear pink” days. The purpose of these events is, of course, awareness.
Founded in 1985, the designation of October as Breast Cancer Awareness month was a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical company Imperial Chemical Industries. From the start, the main goal of the partnership and subsequent national campaign has been the promotion of mammography, the testing procedure is most effective in early detection and prevention of breast cancer.
What is Breast Cancer?
Though women are by far the most affected by breast cancer, it is actually possible for men to get the disease. In 2009, the third week of October was dedicated as “Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week” in an effort to raise awareness about the often overlooked prevalence of it in men.
Like all cancers, breast cancer is a result of cells gone haywire– rogue mutations, whether random or brought on by outside influence, cause breast cells to begin growing abnormally. More rapid and erratic than healthy cell division, these mutant cells grow out of control and begin to form a lump. This lump is the telltale sign of cancer: a tumor. It is possible to get a benign, or non-life threatening, lump. However the presence of one may indicate a higher chance of developing malignant, or life threatening, cancerous tumors.
Breast cancer can spread rapidly if cancerous cells make their way into the bloodstream or lymph system. Lymph vessels carry lymph fluid, critical for immune health, out of the breast. Cancer cells can hijack this lymph highway and hitch a ride to other lymph nodes, where they’ll begin to metastasize.
There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer but there are steps you can take to increase chances of early detection. Testing is the best option. After around 45 years old, it’s recommended that women begin getting regular mammograms.
Men and women alike, regardless of age, should be familiar with their bodies enough to spot an abnormality. Cancer is just that– abnormal cells forming abnormal lumps– so being aware enough to get something out of the ordinary checked out is crucial in early detection.
To do our part in Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’ll be swapping the black caps on our cold-pressed juice bottles for pink. We’ll also be donating a portion of our sales to The Susan G. Komen foundation, a fantastic breast cancer organization focused on patient navigation and advocacy, resource allocation, and research funding.