This October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, MedPro International Explorers will be tasked with not only caring for patients but also educating them on the signs and symptoms of the disease and the importance of early detection. Breast Cancer is the most common cancer worldwide. According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, 2.26 million women were diagnosed with the disease in 2020. Certain groups continue to be hit harder than others due to genetics, a lack of resources, including early detection and treatment, and environmental factors. Belgium has the highest incident rate, while the United States ranks 10th. However, when calculating global mortality rates, Barbados ranks first, followed by Fiji, Jamaica, and the Bahamas.
As Explorers share preventative tips and the importance of screenings, they also need to focus on their own health and well-being. Some research has shown a correlation between breast cancer and healthcare workers’ profession. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2021 followed a group of female health professionals in Taiwan for 35 years. Previous studies had found a higher risk in nurses but no clear relationship among other health professionals, according to the study. They aimed to compare the risk between Taiwanese healthcare professionals and non-health professionals. Their findings concluded there was an “elevated breast cancer risk” among female health professionals.
A 2020 review examined the relationship between night shift work and breast cancer among nurses. The authors reviewed 12 studies and wrote, “Most of the studies found an association between breast cancer and consecutive rotating night shifts prolonged over time… The risk of breast cancer in nurses increased during early adulthood and after five years or more of six or more consecutive[night shifts].”
A 2016 case-control study of breast cancer risk in nurses in Canada followed 1519 women and concluded that the participating nurses were at an increased risk of breast cancer. The authors wrote, “A prolonged duration of nursing years and prolonged intensity (being a full-time nurse) are factors associated with this increased risk.”
Evidence suggests a healthy diet and regular exercise help decrease the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, while alcohol and weight gain can increase risk.
This October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Explorers should remind themselves, just as much as they remind their patients, to embrace early detection and treat signs and symptoms seriously.
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