Most people make New Year's resolutions during this time of year. Then, unfortunately, most break those resolutions within 3 months.
Why we fail
One primary reason we fail is because we are trying to tackle a problem in an aggressive way, right from the start.
…And what works better
What works better, and has proven to be a most successful tactic, is to take baby steps rather than trying to climb the mountain on the first day.
To help yourself become a healthier person and reduce your risk of breast cancer (as well as most other cancers), consider doing the following in 2013 and beyond:
If you're trying to lose weight, reduce your daily calorie intake by 100 calories. After 1 month, increase this "calorie deficit" to 200 calories. Before you know it, you will be watching the pounds melt away. This calorie reduction might be as simple as reducing your soda intake from 2 a day to 1! (Remember: Being overweight is a direct contributor to increasing your risk of breast cancer.)
Right now, make your next mammogram appointment. Check your calendar, figure out when your annual screening is next due, call your mammogram provider, and book way ahead. Oftentimes, women won't call until the last minute and by then their facility is booked solid for months.
If you've changed your mammography facility, be sure to pick up your previous mammograms and take them along with you to the new place. In order to be able to look for a change from last year's images to this year's, the new radiologist will need the old ones to compare to the ones you're going to have taken.
Start getting mammograms annually at age 40. And if you have a first-degree relative who was diagnosed before age 50, your doctor might recommend that you start breast imaging sooner.
The same applies to your Pap smear and pelvic exam. If you're not on The Pill or other hormones, and you had a normal Pap smear last time, there's a good chance you won't have to have the Pap portion of your exam done this time. Instead, you can just have your pelvic exam and a clinical breast exam performed. Yearly pelvic exams are extremely important because ovarian cancer is a particular worry for women with a personal history of breast cancer or family history of ovarian or breast cancer. Clinical breast exams need to happen annually, or even twice a year for those at high risk of breast cancer.
If your Pap smear detects the human papillomavirus (HPV), take heed. Not only is HPV the cause of cervical cancer, it is also the cause of many throat cancers. Women with a personal history of breast cancer are at higher risk of getting other types of cancers.
Now is the time to say noto smoking. This also means saying no to secondhand smoke, another pollutant determined to be bad for your health. When your friend is smoking in your presence, you too end up smoking her cigarette, by breathing in the secondary smoke. (If your friend has no plans to quit, make a rule that her smoking must happen away from you--after you've eaten lunch together, outside on your porch, anywhere but where you are. If people want to do harm to themselves that's their affair, but it's no reason for you to allow them to harm you.) The American Cancer Society says that if tobacco didn't exist, 80 percent of cancers would not exist either. Your risk of breast cancer triples when you are habitually exposed to tobacco smoke.
Check your medicine cabinet and toss out items that have expired. Taking medicines that have expired is not a good idea. You'll be surprised how old some of these meds are.
Commit to doing some power walking at least once a week, and build up to 3 times a week. Try to do 30 minutes at a time (although the experts do say now that you can break up a 30-minute workout into 3 smaller 10-minute ones through the day). Recruit a friend; the buddy system really motivates people to stick with a routine. (Power walking 3 times a week reduces the risk of breast cancer by one-third.)
It might be the middle of winter, but wearing sun block has to happen year 'round. Women who have a history of breast cancer also have an increased risk of getting melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.