JIS News

With October being observed as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Physician and Public Relations Officer of the Jamaica Midlife Society, Dr. Fay Whitbourne, is encouraging women to examine their breasts and report anything unusual to their doctors.
“We know that this is breast cancer awareness month and we really want to encourage women to get out there, be more aware, examine their breasts, to ask their doctors to teach them how to do it,” she said during a recent JIS Think Tank.
“We are not expecting them to make a diagnosis (but) to repeatedly examine their own breasts to become aware of what the normal texture for their breasts is and so, if they find something unusual, a hardened area, then they should immediately go to their doctors to have it investigated,” Dr. Whitbourne stated.
She is also advising women age 40 and older to have mammograms done. A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray examination of the breasts to look for changes that are not normal.
“We encourage women from age 40 to start doing mammograms because mammograms, even though they are not perfect, they can detect cancers,” she said, noting that Jamaica is on the cutting edge in terms of mammogram technology.
Noting that women in midlife, that is, those age 45 to 60 years, are more at risk, she said that mammograms should be done every two years between age 40 to 50 and after age 50, once per year.
Dr. Whitbourne stated also that women need to be aware of the risks factors for breast cancer, including smoking and excessive alcohol intake.
“We are now having measurements that tell us that a woman, who has two drinks a day, her risk of breast cancer goes up 10 per cent, if she has five drinks per day it goes up 30 per cent and it doesn’t matter what kind of alcohol and certainly, that’s something that can be avoided. Obesity is another factor that has been identified and it’s probably related to the fact that obese women produce more oestrogen,” she said.
Others most at risk include girls, who start their period earlier than age 11; women, who continue to menstruate up to age 55; women, who do not breast feed their babies; and women with a family history of breast cancer.
“We have the ability to measure and to identify genes in women, who may have a hereditary pre-disposition and those can be measured right here in Jamaica so if someone has this kind of family history, these are issues that can be discussed with a doctor then further action can be taken”, she pointed out.
Continuing she added, “people who have a regular exercise programme and stick to it, people who eat healthy, lots of fruits and vegetables, fresh products that have the antioxidants, people who keep their weight down and avoid alcohol their risk is much lower so these are points of information that we really want Jamaicans to understand”.
The mission of the Jamaica Midlife Health Society is to promote health, wellness and quality of life of the public, through an understanding of chronic non-communicable and communicable diseases, general wellness and comprehensive methods to prevent these conditions.

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