October is Breast Cancer Awareness. At AquaTru, we aren’t turning the water pink this month, but we do want to recognize this annual campaign by sharing some useful content. That said, this article will discuss breast cancer rates and risk factors, as well as some common tap water contaminants that are known to be harmful carcinogens.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What to Know
Breast Cancer Awareness Month was first celebrated in 1985 as a way to promote screening and prevention of the disease. Globally, there are more than 2.3 million women affected by breast cancer each year—affecting one in eight women in the United States.
This disease doesn’t just affect women. While less common, about 1 in every 100 breast cancer diagnoses are for men. This means that about 2,710 American men are diagnosed every year.
Invasive ductal carcinoma, invasive lobular carcinoma, and ductal carcinoma in situ are the most common types of breast cancer, for both men and women. Because around 30% of early-stage breast cancers metastasize (spread to other areas of the body), October is a good time to be aware of breast cancer symptoms and risk factors.
Breast cancer symptoms
While the most common symptom of breast cancer is a mass or lump, there are some other possible symptoms:
- Partial or complete breast swelling (with or without a lump)
- Skin dimpling that looks like an orange peel
- Nipple or breast pain
- Turned-in nipples (retraction)
- Dry, flaking, thickened breast or nipple skin
- Nipple discharge
- Swollen lymph nodes near the collarbone or under the arm
It’s important to note that many of these symptoms can be caused by benign (non-cancerous) conditions. Still, it’s wise to have any potential breast cancer symptoms checked by a healthcare professional as soon as they’re noticed—especially if they’re coupled with breast cancer risk factors.
Breast cancer risk factors
While breast cancer diagnoses can occur for those who don’t have any of the common risk factors, the following should still be considered:
- Getting older. Most breast cancer diagnoses are for individuals 50 years and older.
- Reproductive history. Menstruation before age 12 and menopause after age 55 have been linked to higher risk of breast cancer.
- Dense breasts. Breasts that are more dense have more connective tissue, which can increase breast cancer risk and make detecting tumors more difficult.
- Genetic mutations. Mutations on BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are linked to a higher risk of ovarian and breast cancer.
- Personal history. Repeat diagnoses are more likely for those who’ve already had breast cancer.
- Family history. A woman’s risk is higher if a mother, sister, daughter, or other first-degree relative has had breast or ovarian cancer.
- Previous radiation therapy. Radiation therapy on the chest before age 30 contributes to a higher risk.
- Drug exposure. DES (diethylstilbestrol) was given to some pregnant women, and has been linked to breast cancer risk.
- Physical activity level. Lower rates of physical activity are linked with higher breast cancer risk.
- Obesity. Older women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for breast cancer.
- Reproductive history. Not having a full-term pregnancy or having a first pregnancy after 30 can raise breast cancer risk.
- Hormone use. Hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives have been linked to higher risk.
- Alcohol consumption. The more alcohol someone drinks, the higher their chances of breast cancer.
Changes in hormones, smoking, and exposure to chemicals have also been linked to breast cancer. Fortunately, some of these risk factors can be avoided.
Carcinogens in Water
Making healthy lifestyle choices by exercising often, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing alcohol consumption can help to combat some of the risk factors of breast cancer. Similarly, avoiding exposure to certain chemicals and harmful carcinogens can also help to reduce risk of not just breast cancer, but other cancers as well.
This starts by drinking contaminant-free tap water.
Between naturally-occurring substances, those used to disinfect water, and by-products from agriculture and industry, many Americans have tap water that contains potential carcinogens. These include arsenic, disinfection byproducts, nitrate, and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS, or “forever chemicals”).
Hexavalent chromium in drinking water has been linked to malignant tumors in animal studies, and uranium is known to contribute to breast, cancer, colorectal, and prostate cancer risk. Also found in tap water, BPA makes bottled water an unsafe alternative, as it, too, is linked to breast cancer tumor growth.
Connected and Contaminant-Free
It’s not all bad news, though. Multi-stage reverse osmosis technology can go a long way to protect you and your family from these harmful contaminants. That’s the case in AquaTru water purifiers, which have been tested to NSF standards and therefore proven to remove dangerous contaminants. See for yourself by taking a look at the test results of our Countertop Purifiers!
While sipping on AquaTru’s clean, healthy water you can trust, take some time to learn more about breast cancer and how you can support relevant organizations. Check out the links below:
- Cancer Treatment Centers of America: Connections between drinking water carcinogens and cancer
- Cumulative risk analysis of carcinogenic contaminants in United States drinking water: 2019 study that found that improving water quality is one of the best opportunities for protecting public health and reducing potential disease incidence
- Brastcancer.org: Exposure to water contaminants, and how reverse osmosis systems remove contaminants that tap filters can’t
- Breast Cancer Now: Breast research and support charity
- Susan G. Koman: Information about understanding breast cancer risk, screening options, healthy lifestyle choices, and ways to take action during Breast Cancer Awareness Month
AquaTru recognizes that healthy water can go much further than just making every glass taste better. We hope you join us in observing Breast Cancer Awareness Month and recognizing that an optimized life starts with pure, safe, healthy water.