Although women are far more likely to die from heart disease, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and remains the single most feared disease, according to a survey commissioned by the Society for Women's Health Research.
Fortunately, October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month may be dispelling some of those fears through its extensive educational outreach. From special merchandise in grocery and department stores to pink ribbons worn on lapels, the campaign to raise awareness of the disease that affects millions has grown dramatically since it was first established in 1985.
A comprehensive study 10 years ago revealed that California teachers have a higher-than-expected rate of breast cancer and other forms of the disease. For the past 16 years, thousands of female public school educators have been involved in the California Teachers Study which continues to monitor the situation.
Researchers have been able to gather data from more than 133,000 teachers in grades kindergarten through community college - both retirees and those currently in the classroom.
Suggested risk factors include:
- Higher level of education – partly because women who delay having their first child are at increased risk
- Use of hormone replacement therapy
- Alcohol consumption – two or more alcoholic beverages a day
The research consortium plans to apply for $10 million in federal funding to extend the project through 2014. It also wants an estimated $1 million in additional funds to broaden the participant pool to younger teachers.
Although no one can prevent cancers from occurring in the population, people can take steps to lower their risks. General recommendations include:
- Regular self-breast exams
- Regular mammograms for women over 40
- Avoiding smoking
- Eating a healthy diet
From the Educator
The September 2011 issue of California Educator magazine addressed cancer. Read article on prevention:
The September 2009 issue of California Educator magazine covered breast cancer in depth. Check our interactive version of the magazine for the various articles.
*For information on the study referred to in the Educator articles, visit www.calteachersstudy.org. For prevention tips visit www.nccc.org/preventiontips.