It’s OK to have breasts on your mind

Breasts are on the minds of many folks lately as medical officials and non-profits spread the word during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

According to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, a woman has a one-in-eight chance of getting breast cancer in her lifetime. The risk increases for women who have family members that have suffered from breast cancer.

Women with small breasts and women with large breasts are equally likely to get breast cancer — and Washington state has one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the country.

Cynthia Kannenberg, manager of the Women’s Health and Breast Center at St. Francis Hospital, said the state’s high rate is likely caused by a lack of sunlight in the area, which leads to deficiencies in vitamin D.

The Women’s Health and Breast Center will host a Bunco for Breast Care fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club. The event will raise money to fund mammograms and breast-related services for women who can’t afford health care. Kannenberg said organizers hope to raise $3,000 at the event.

Cost to attend is $22 per person and will include light appetizers. Specialty cocktails such as Mammo Martinis and Cosmos for Cancer will be available for purchase. Reservations for the event are required.

Prizes including massages, bracelets, candles and chocolate will be awarded to winning and losing Bunco players.

Bunco is a simple dice game that can be easily picked up by amateurs. Bunco events are often more about socializing than the strategy of the game, Kannenberg said.

“It’s mindless,” she said. “There’s no strategy. There’s nothing. You have a little cocktail and chat with the person next to you... It’s a great social thing because you’re meeting new people.”

Organizers aimed to create an event for breast cancer that was lighthearted and upbeat, Kannenberg said, adding that breast cancer is a serious topic.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and the main cause of death in women 45 to 55 years old in the United States.

Among the best ways to prevent death from breast cancer is getting regular mammograms. Women over age 40 should get mammograms at least every two years, and women over 50 should get them once a year. Women with family members who have had breast cancer should begin getting mammograms at a younger age.

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast tissue. A machine flattens and compresses the breast tissue between two paddles to get the image.

“You have to hold your breath and it takes about three seconds,” Kannenberg said.

Some women find the procedure slightly painful, and it is recommended to avoid getting a mammogram in the week before menstruation when breasts are the most sensitive.

Regular self breast exams are also recommended. Kannenberg suggests doing a self exam in the shower with soap at least once a month.

Women who want to reduce their risk of breast cancer should take vitamin D supplements, exercise, quit smoking, limit alcohol and eat high fiber foods.

“Just basic good health,” Kannenberg said. “And get your annual mammograms.”


A woman’s chance of getting breast cancer increases with age. Below is the chance by current age:

Age 20: 1 in 1,985

Age 30: 1 in 229

Age 40: 1 in 68

Age 50: 1 in 37

Age 60: 1 in 26

Age 70: 1 in 24

Ever: 1 in 8


Below are some factors that may increase a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer:

Getting older.

Having inherited breast cancer genes.

Having a previous biopsy showing hyperplasia or carcinoma in situ.

Having a mother, daughter or sister who has had breast cancer.

Having a high breast density on a mammogram.

Being exposed to large amounts of radiation, such as having very frequent spine X-rays.

A personal history of breast or ovarian cancer.

Starting menopause after age 55.

Never having children.

Having your first child after age 30.

Being overweight after menopause or gaining weight as an adult.

Having more than one drink of alcohol per day.

Currently or recently using combined estrogen and progesterone hormone replacement therapy.

Being less than 12 years old at the time of your first period.

Taking birth control pills for five years or longer.

Source: The Susan G. Komen For the Cure Foundation


The Women’s Health and Breast Center at St. Francis Hospital will host a Bunco for Breast Care fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 9 at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club, 3583 SW 320th St., Federal Way. Participants are encouraged to wear pink and reservations are required.

To learn more, register or donate, call (888) 825-3227.

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