Baroness Delyth Morgan
Chief Executive, Breast Cancer Now
With around 55,000 women still hearing the words ‘it’s breast cancer’ each year in the UK, we urgently need to support more women to actively reduce their risk.
More women are now being diagnosed with breast cancer than ever before.
One in eight will face the disease in their lifetime, and – despite major research progress – around 11,500 mothers, sisters and daughters are still losing their lives every year in the UK.
We need to act now, and preventing the disease in the first place is one of the most powerful weapons we have. That’s why it’s so important that more women are supported to take steps to reduce their risk.
Lifestyle changes make a difference to breast cancer risk
While we cannot change some things that affect our risk, such as getting older, there are others we can do something about. By making small lifestyle changes now, including exercising regularly and drinking less alcohol, all women and men can reduce their chances of developing breast cancer in the future.
Eating a balanced and varied diet – rich in fruit and vegetables and low in red and processed meat, and fatty and sugary foods – can also help you lower your risk by keeping you at a healthy weight.
There are also lots of ways to reduce your breast cancer risk by being physically active on a daily basis – whether by walking to work, gardening or taking the family for a bike ride. Any activity that makes you warmer, breathe harder and makes your heart beat faster will help.
Early detection is also imperative
But with incidence rising, we also need to detect more cases earlier – where treatment is more likely to be successful. Although more common in older women, breast cancer can also occur in younger women – which is why we’re urging women of all ages to Touch Look Check.
Just get to know what your breasts look and feel like normally. It doesn’t matter when, where or how you check, as long as you do it regularly. This makes it easier to spot any unusual changes – like a lump, an inverted nipple, or discolouration.
If something doesn’t feel right, it’s important to see your GP straight away. Whilst most cases will turn out to be harmless, two thirds of breast cancers are found by women noticing unusual changes and getting them checked out.
Our aim is that, by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live – and live well. But with the disease still taking lives on a heart-breaking scale, we must do everything we can to prevent more cases, improve early detection and find more effective treatments. It’s time to act.