Did you know that a mammogram only has the amount of radiation that you would normally get on a flight at 35,000 feet from Chicago to California?

Hi, I'm Dr. Paul Vaneck, a double board certified plastic surgeon, and I would like you to join me on Think Health. All of us who have read or pay attention to health features on television know that factors for increased risk of breast cancer include smoking, obesity, radiation exposure, as well as family history. Today's discussion will be a rapid fire compilation of health facts for men and women who are worried about themselves or their family members' breast health.

Let's start with the men in the room. Guys, tell the woman in your life over 40 that you love her and you want her to get a mammogram. It is a sensitive test and a sensitive subject that many women want to avoid for a host of reasons that include inconvenience, cost, or simple fear. The test does not increase risk of cancer or spread it at all. It gives peace of mind when it is negative, but if it finds a small mass, the cure rate is almost 100%. We know that 8 out of 10 breast lumps in women are benign. So that while that may mean we do a lot of biopsies that are negative, it also means we do find early cancers that can save your life.

And ladies, set up a notification on your phone or calendar each month to perform a self-breast examination. This could be another way of detecting lumps, but let's stick with the men a little longer. 1700 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, 450 will die. It means that one case of breast cancer out of 100 is still found in men. There's no such thing as a "man-ogram," but a simple acknowledgement of a mass in the man's breast needs to be taken seriously. If there is a lump in your breast, make an appointment with your doctor and have it checked out.

White women have a higher rate of breast cancer than any other racial or ethnic group. However, among women under age 40, African Americans have higher incidents of breast cancer than white women. When Asian women emigrate to the United States, the risk of developing a breast cancer increases up to six fold. Asian immigrant women living in the U.S. for as little as a decade had an 80% higher risk of breast cancer than new immigrants. While Hispanics have lower rates of breast cancer than their non-Latina sisters, it is still the leading reason for cancer deaths among Hispanics. Low screening participation rates make Hispanic women more likely to be diagnosed at a more advanced age stage of disease when fewer treatments are available resulting in poorer outcomes and higher mortality.

Diet, the word itself sends us looking for the next antioxidant food to save us, while the concepts of moderation in calories, high fiber and low fat consumption have the best support for breast health. If you have early breast cancer and are deficient in vitamin D, then you may have a higher risk of recurrence in another area and a poor outcome. Exercise has been associated for a positive health benefit for almost all disorders. Whether they are Alzheimer's or breast cancer risks, walking an hour a day can significantly improve your risks for all the intuitive reasons. Also, breast feeding for one and a half to two years may slightly lower breast cancer risk. But it is especially hard to study. Women who have no children who have had the first child after age 30 have a slightly higher breast cancer risk. Having many pregnancies and becoming pregnant at a young age reduced breast cancer risk.

Breast Health for Men and Women

Dr. Paul Vanek discusses the importance of having a mammogram to monitor breast health. He discusses the most important facts you should be aware of.