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Baby Talk | Take steps to help prevent breast cancer

October has been designated the month to increase awareness of searching for a cure for breast cancer and for preventing the death of infants under the age of 1 year old. Both have risk factors that can be controlled. They also have factors that cannot be controlled. Being aware of both factors increases survival.

Having a first baby after the age of 30, not taking birth control pills, avoiding hormone replacement therapy that combines estrogen and progesterone, breast feeding for over a year, limiting alcohol to 1 drink a day, maintaining a body weight appropriate for your height, and being physically active, reduces the risk of breast cancer.

The Internet rumor that antiperspirants and bras contribute to developing breast cancer is not supported by scientific evidence. There is also no evidence that breast implants cause cancer. Smoking does not seem to increase the rate of breast cancer, but definitely increases the risk of lung cancer.

Some things we cannot change. A woman is 100 times more likely to have the disease than a man. Getting older increases our risk of many diseases, including breast cancer. Some breast cancers are believed to be linked to our genetics. If cancer has occurred in one breast it might reoccur in the other breast.

White women are at higher risk than other races. Women with dense, tightly compacted tissue are at a greater risk, as well as women who have their first period before the age of 12.

Breast cancer is curable. Regular mammograms, a healthy lifestyle, and staying informed are risk factors we can control.

Having cancer is hard, but nothing is more devastating than losing a child. There are risk factors that contribute to an infant not making it to their first birthday. Seeking prenatal care when pregnant I think is the first step in creating a safe environment for a baby.

Taking classes before your baby is born helps prepare parents with knowledge of what to expect. Attending support groups for new mothers helps mothers understand normal growth and development. It also helps mothers see and talk with other new mothers who may be struggling with similar problems. Well baby visits with a medical provider keeps babies well.

Making sure the baby has a place to sleep that is designated just for the baby will prevent the unfortunate and avoidable situation of someone rolling over onto a baby and suffocating the infant.

Breastfeeding is well known to contribute to the health of the baby. Babies should not be around cigarette smoke. It hurts the baby's lungs and the smoker's lungs.

If you know anyone that needs help with any of these risk factors tell them they can get help. Healthy Start Manatee is all about helping families being healthy. Their phone number is 941-708-6111. They are here to help every family have a healthy start in life.

Katie Powers, R.N., is a board-certified lactation consultant and perinatal educator at Manatee Memorial Hospital's Family BirthPlace. Her column appears every other week in Healthy Living. Contact her at katie.powers@mmhhs.com.

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