Breast Cancer Awareness Month gives us a chance to look at our situation in Jamaica. Breast Cancers is the most diagnosed form of cancer among women here. Jamaica also leads the Caribbean in breast cancer incidence. Many of you know that chances of surviving breast cancer increase significantly with early detection and treatment. The Mayo Clinic Organization recommends that women start mammograms at age 40 and continue annually. Mammograms detect cancer cells that are too small to see or feel with X-rays.

A family history of breast cancer increases the chance of its occurrence. Ten to fifteen percent of breast cancer cases are believed to be hereditary. The US Center for Disease Control says A woman's risk for breast cancer is higher if she has a mother, sister, or daughter or multiple family members on either her mother's or father's side who have had breast or ovarian cancer. Having a first- degree male relative with breast cancer also raises a woman's risk, according to the CDC.

Women who are aware of their family history can take the necessary measures to reduce chances of them developing breast cancer. The medical establishment offers a few tips that may be useful. Those over 36 should lessen alcohol intake — of course, no alcohol is better. Older women should limit medication they take for
menopause because they can increase the occurrence of breast cancer. Other good habits to prevent breast cancer include lessening or avoiding birth control, not smoking, eating healthy fruits and vegetables, and getting screened often.

Many women give their breasts tender love and care, from warm baths to gentle massages. This increases blood flow and reduces chances of developing lumps in the breast that can result in breast cancer. Breastfeeding also helps to prevent cancer and is healthy for mothers and their babies.

The axiom that health is wealth is true, and the best way to manage it is by exercising and maintaining a good weight. We encourage all women to show their breasts the love they need. We also advise those over 40 to do a mammogram soonest. It is the fastest and easiest way to know if you have cancer cells.