To increase survival rates of breast cancer through early detection, we need to be getting into the habit of checking our breasts from an early age.
The Avon Breast Promise Report 2012, commissioned by one of the leading supporters of the breast cancer cause, suggests that women should get their daughters familiar with how to care for their breasts from as early as 12 or 13 years of age – at the same time they begin to think about their daily grooming and health regime.
Supermodel Yasmin Le Bon is helping to support the campaign, she says: "This is a campaign I feel very passionate about. Regular breast checking is such a simple task, yet still seems to be overlooked in most people’s daily routine. We all quite happily spend our time cleansing, toning and moisturising so we’re clearly pretty good at creating routines. In our house we’re very open in talking about the importance of breast checking so it’s something that has become normal.”
Research findings that fed into the report, which questioned 2,000 women, showed they were more likely to integrate breast checks into their routine if they could assimilate it into their health or exercise routine, rather than thinking about it as a risk aversion tactic.
Overall 55 per cent of women admitted that they would be more likely to check their breasts if it was something they integrated into their grooming routine or another regular activity, like taking exercise.
Leading psychologist, psychotherapist, and breast cancer specialist, Prof Janet Reibstein, worked with Avon on the report. She explains:
“Breast checking needs to start young. As a young woman, not only are you becoming conscious of your body, but it’s the point in your life when you set up many routines that will last a lifetime. Habits can be formed through three main pillars: gain, avoiding pain or relieving anxiety. As the Avon report shows, fear and anxiety do not always encourage better habits, especially if you don't see yourself at much risk. Instead, if from an early age women start to see breast checking as a gain, an investment in healthy futures, body knowledge, and feeling good, and as a ‘normal’ part of their grooming and health regime, like brushing teeth or moisturising their faces, breast checking is more likely to become a habit, and form the important habit of breast checking earlier. These positive motivations will be far more effective for them in particular than negative ones that don’t at this point in their lives really apply to them, and are therefore less likely to be meaningful.”
In response to the report findings, Avon is launching its Breast Promise to help drive positive behaviour change:
Avon’s Breast Promise: Five Step Plan
Promise to Teach – Create a legacy by teaching your daughter to know and love her breasts, by promising to look and check. Emphasise the benefit to her health and reassure her that regular checks are as important as caring for her skin, face or hair.
Promise to Repeat – Aim to repeat your breast checks every month, this will lead to an understanding of your body and what is normal for you.
Promise to Share – Letting friends and family know about your promise will help you keep it. Use social media to generate support, or find a breast buddy and make a pact to do the checks on the same day. Sharing your routine will help you flourish and supports other women too.
Promise to Remind – Remember to check by setting an automatic alert on your mobile, iPad, computer or calendar. Alternatively there are some fantastic Apps that will do the hard work for you.
Promise to Sync – Add a breast check to part of an existing health, fitness, or beauty routine, this will help it to become second nature.
Avon’s Breast Cancer Crusade has raised over $740 million for breast cancer charities since 1992, including more than £16 million in the UK.
Femalefirst Taryn Davies