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October is breast cancer awareness month

Health wise column
By: Dr. Vinutha Raj, Special to The News Messenger
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Research suggests that general health habits play a role in helping reduce the risk of breast cancer. Below are tips for keeing healthy. Get a yearly mammogram While it’s true that mammograms won’t reduce the risk of breast cancer, they can help detect it in its early stages. New technology is making this test even better. Faster and more accurate digital imaging does away with bulky film X-rays and allows images to be viewed by multiple users at the same time on different computers. Get a clinical breast exam Women should see their doctors for a yearly breast exam if they are 40 or older, and every three years between the ages of 20 to 39. Perform self-exams monthly. Keep weight in check Avoid being overweight, especially after menopause. Maintaining a healthful weight can also reduce the risk of many other conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. Limit alcohol and don’t smoke Drink only in moderation – studies suggest that drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day may increase the breast-cancer risk by 25 percent. Smoking may increase the risk for breast cancer and other illnesses. Move your body Among its many benefits, exercise has been shown to reduce breast-cancer risk. Nobody knows exactly why but it may be due to the effects of activity on hormones, energy balance and the immune system. The best way to fight breast cancer is with knowledge, not fear. That’s why every woman should have regular breast exams and mammograms. At any age, it pays to ‘put up your dukes’ against this dreaded disease. If found early, breast cancer can usually be treated and cured. Vinutha Raj is an internal medicine physician at Sutter Medical Group. Health Wise is provided courtesy of Sutter Health.