Impact of breast cancer awareness campaigns Breast cancer awareness campaigns have most definitely paid off, which is one of the reasons over 81% of women diagnosed are now still alive five years later. However a side effect of all this extra attention is that some people are panicking unnecessarily. But the fact is breast cancer is still very much an age-related illness, with four in five cases in women over 50. There has also been a lot of unfounded anxiety as a result of recent developments. A study earlier this year suggested that the denser your breast tissue, the higher your risk of cancer simply because more tissue means more cells with a potential risk of turning cancerous. As a result, there were calls for all women with dense breasts to be offered an ultrasound, as well as momography, in order to detect problems. But, ultrasound has been found to miss a lot of cancers - as well as producing a four-fold rise in false positives (patients who were told there was a problem when there wasn't). That’s an awful lot of very scared women who might potentially undergo invasive examinations for no reason. The same goes for calls on women under 47 to have mammograms. Unless you’re high risk because of a strong family history there’s not much point - pre-menopausal women also tend to have denser breasts, which makes mammography less effective. Of course, you must always get any concerns checked out, but in my opinion the simple fact is that knowing your own breasts is by far the most effective way to catch potential problems early. See breakthrough.org.uk for details on how to check - and remember, most lumps are nothing to worry about. Go for your mammogram when you’re called and, from the evidence, you'll be doing the best for your breasts. Suffer from migraines? Don't believe anyone who says chocolate or cheese are to blame. While certain foods can play a role, we now know sufferers have a fault in a gene that controls how pain is felt. The biggest triggers are missing meals, stress, dehydration, hormones and changes in sleep - monitor these rather than skipping your favourite treats.
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