October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Early detection of breast cancer often improves the outcome of treatment. Therefore, if you are a woman over the age of 40 or have had a mother or sister diagnosed with breast cancer, you may be at a greater risk of developing breast cancer. Make sure you and the women you know perform self-exams each month, report any unusual bumps or changes in size of the breast, and are regularly screened for breast cancer. Ask our pharmacist how various types of hormones may affect your risk of breast cancer. We know that survival is the goal but often not the end of a woman’s journey with breast cancer. Quality of life is so important, and treatment may cause ongoing unpleasant side effects, plus cancer survivors often live in fear of recurrence. Women who have had breast cancer may be suffering but don’t want to complain because they are grateful to be alive. If you or someone you love has ongoing problems after chemotherapy or radiation (such as discomfort, weight gain, fatigue, mental cloudiness, mood swings or gastrointestinal upset), talk to our pharmacist.

Another consideration when preventing or combatting breast cancer is gut health. A recent UVA Cancer Center study revealed that an unhealthy gut can trigger changes in normal breast tissue which then allows breast cancer to spread to other parts of the body. The gut microbiome is a collection of microbes that naturally live in the digestive system. The microbiome is most commonly disrupted by poor diet, obesity, long-term antibiotic use, and other factors. When the balance is disrupted, the microbiome changes the makeup of important immune cells in the breast tissue which facilitates the spread of cancer. When breast cancer metastasizes, it is often deadly, so finding ways to stop the spread can improve survival rates. The first step to help maintain or improve gut health, is to take a quality probiotic. A high-quality probiotic supplement along with prebiotics work hand and hand to restore gut balance. Consuming fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, and water kefir as well as reducing dietary sugar and environmental stress is also helpful. Talk to our Peachtree pharmacist to discuss ways to help you maintain the health of your gut microbiome.

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