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Why you should talk to your teen about breast cancer

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Preventing breast cancer demands a life-course approach—which means you and your daughters should discuss it now, not later.

Let's talk about breasts.

Got your attention? Good. Because despite all the pink-ribbon awareness this month, it’s still likely that you or someone you love has dealt or will deal with breast cancer. Given that more than 70 percent of diagnoses have no discernable culprit, such as family genetics or smoking, it’s a topic that needs constant, forthright, and accurate discussion.

According to a 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine, breast cancer needs a “life-course approach”—in other words, choices made at certain ages may affect disease risk. So first: Be aware of your own body and take responsibility for it by doing self-exams and getting checkups regularly. (Men, you’re not immune: Breast cancer in guys represents about 1 percent of all cases.)

Second, take a hard look at potential everyday toxins, such as the endocrine disruptor BPA, found in many plastics, and 1,4-dioxane, frequently used in body care products. “Women up through their first pregnancies are most susceptible to toxins because their mammary glands are still forming and changing,” says Cynthia Barstow, executive director of Protect Our Breasts, a science-based advocacy and education group. “That’s why we focus on female college students—so they can make safer brand choices before they become pregnant, to protect themselves as well as their child in utero.” Find out more in "Natural Care for Mom and Baby" (appearing as "You're Beautiful, Baby" in the October issue).

Finally, pay attention to what you eat. In “Breast Cancer Prevention,” health writer Lisa Marshall details everyday, food-related choices that can significantly improve your odds against developing breast cancer.

We’ve got more power over our health than we think. Become informed. Ask your natural products retailer to recommend clean, immunity-enhancing products. And share with us and each other (below on or our Facebook page) how your natural lifestyle choices make a difference in your health.

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