Breast cancer is a type of cancer that begins when the cells of the breast tissue mutate, or change, and begin to divide and grow in an uncontrolled way. These cells then start to build up and group together, causing a tumor to form. Some tumors are benign, which means they will not invade surrounding tissue. Other tumors are malignant – meaning they are cancerous and can spread to other parts of the body.
Breast health is about being breast aware – knowing what’s normal and watching for breast changes. Some breast changes are normal. For example, when breasts are growing they can feel tight, heavy, and sometimes tender. During monthly periods it is also common to have tender breasts or slight lumpiness. These changes are temporary. Breasts also change as women grow older.
Some changes may be an early sign of breast cancer – like a new lump, pain or tenderness in the breast or armpit not related to your menstrual cycle, and changes in the look and feel of your breasts or nipples. If you are worried about any changes in your breasts, check it out with your doctor.
Image used with permission from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
Experts don’t really know what exactly causes breast cancer or why some women develop it while others don’t.
Researchers have found that breast cancer is most likely caused by a combination of different risk factors, some within our control and some not.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease – it does not mean you will get that disease.
Cigarettes may be small, but when they’re burned, they release a dangerous mix of over 7,000 chemicals in to the air – more than 70 are known to cause cancer. People who smoke breathe in these chemicals. But so does everyone else who breathes in second-hand smoke. Some of the more well known cancer-causing chemicals in cigarette smoke include:
On their own, many of these chemicals are poisonous, but they’re even worse when burned together and are definitely not meant to be inhaled! Yuck!
It is true filtered cigarettes stop solid particles from being inhaled. However, filters are powerless against most of the toxic chemicals contained within cigarettes and they give no protection from side stream smoke – the smoke produced from the burning end of the cigarette. Side stream smoke is the main component of second-hand smoke.
Many people think it’s safer to smoke outdoors because the smoke will drift in the wind or people will just move out of the way of the second-hand smoke.
But, in reality, cigarette smoke doesn’t move very far and outdoor levels of cigarette smoke within one or two meters of a lit cigarette can actually be just as high as levels found indoors.
Also, the by-products of smoking (third-hand smoke) stay behind in the nearby area (e.g. on chairs, tables, railings, etc.) even after the person butts out.
About 1 in 9 Canadian teens currently smoke, with rates similar for both girls and guys. The good news? Smoking rates among teens are the lowest they’ve ever been! And smoking in many public places has now been banned.
But… there are teens who are at risk for starting to smoke and many girls are still exposed to second-hand smoke daily, either at home, in cars, at parties, or on sidewalks and in parks.
Stay healthy! Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke. You have the power to live a smoke-free life!
Be an ally! If someone close to you (like a friend or family member) is trying to quit, be there for them. You may be surprised just how much they appreciate your support!
Tell others! What you say can have a big influence on the people in your life, so share what you know with your friends and family and help them live a smoke-free life too! If you find this site useful, share it with your friends!