Today, my friends, it’s the health of human breasts, of which a fine 19th-century example hangs above, painted by Edouard Manet (who twice failed the entrance exam for the French Navy, disappointing his father but giving the world one marvelous Impressionist).
Not so many decades ago the word “cancer” was unmentionable (“she’s got CA”) and discussion of breast cancer was particularly taboo, which contributed to women’s deaths. The supporters of breast cancer cure research, notably the Susan G. Komen Foundation, have done a fabulous job with breast health awareness, tying it to the color pink. These days, pink may mean springtime or youth, but it certainly means the fight against breast cancer.
The pink that’s displayed several times a year can be placed on pretty much any item in a tie-in for funds to find a cure for breast cancer, and to design better treatments for cancer patients. You’ll find pink on soups, T-shirts, candy. There are pink walkathons and pink donation boxes. People run for pink: breast cancer survivors, their families and friends, co-workers . . . almost anyone up for a good cause.
But what if the good cause included prevention, rather than simply cure? What if some of that great pink energy – and cash – were siphoned off to make the case to young women, “act now to prevent breast cancer later”? The clues to preventing a great deal of breast cancer are all over the internet, so why isn’t the Komen Foundation standing on rooftops and shouting them out?
Herewith, some pink of my own!
Tips to keep your ta-ta’s healthy:
1. Keep your weight down. Being slender is good for your heart, your brain, your finances, but also your breasts. Here’s why: even in men, the hormone estrogen is stored in fat cells. Estrogen is an essential hormone, but too much of it acts as a growth accelerator for cancers of all kinds – it’s as though estrogen “mothers” the cancer, increasing its likelihood and its size. (Women with a diagnosis of cancer, who follow alternative medicine recommendations, often severely reduce their body fat in order to “starve” the cancer.) The less fat on your body, the less risk of cancer.
2. Don’t smoke. Don’t even start! If you’re already smoking, for heaven’s sake, girl, quit NOW. Burning cigarettes give off dozens of toxic chemicals. The fewer of those chemicals you ingest, the less likely your cells will be altered and cancer allowed to develop.
3. If you drink alcohol at all, drink very little. This is related to healthy weight (see #1), because alcohol contains empty calories, but in addition, alcohol is much harder for women to metabolize. A 150-pound man who drinks a beer will break down its components much faster than a 150-pound woman. Thus the alcohol will flow in her bloodstream longer, adversely affecting her organs (breasts are milk-making organs).
4. If you bear children, breastfeed them for as long as possible. Each month of breastfeeding provides anti-cancer protection for you the mother – as well as perfect food for your baby. A woman who breastfeeds for a total of only 12 months throughout her life (regardless of the number of children) significantly lowers her risk of developing breast cancer.
So, wear pink, buy pink, race pink! But pass these prevention tips on to young women and teenage girls. It’s never too early to prevent breast cancer, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.