Breast Cancer Rates High Among Troops

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Breast Cancer Rates High Among Troops

 Our military members are heroes, and even viewed as invincible, but unfortunately no one is completely invincible.  Although most members of the military are normally at lower risk for most cancers than civilians, breast cancer is not one of them.  Military women need to pay just as much attention to their breast health as civilian women do, because early detection is key to survival.

“Military people in general, and in some cases very specifically, are at a significantly greater risk for being diagnosed with breast cancer,” says Dr. Richard Clapp, a top cancer expect at BostonUniversity.  Dr. Clapp works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on military breast cancer issues and he thinks that the military is exposed to risk factors directly linked with higher chances of breast cancer diagnosis.

Although breast cancer typically is a woman’s problem, there have been mysterious spikes in the male military population as well.  The American Cancer Society says typically about 2, 190 men are diagnosed with breast cancer a year, and 410 die.  They found that dozens of men at CampLejeune in North Carolina were diagnosed with this disease, a total of 80 men.

Military women are 20-40% more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than civilian women in their age group.   They believe one of the causes for this is the usage of oral contraception among the military women. However, experts are unsure why these breast cancer spikes in the military are happening. Theories include: radio emissions, chemicals, aircrew work, toxic bases, and shift work.

“Military women are also more likely to be engaged in industrial jobs than females in the general population and are hence potentially more likely to be exposed to chemicals that may be related to breast cancer,” the researchers wrote.

Breast Cancer is just as brutal as combat for military women.  From 2010 to 2011, 800 women were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, while 874 women were diagnosed with breast cancer.  Back in 2009, it was found that more women were removed from a combat zone because of breast cancer than any other condition.

“The dog tags and camouflage are real.  I am still active duty,” a woman soldier said on her blog. “I have been in for over 17 years and 2 combat deployments. In February 2011, I was diagnosed with Stage IIIB Breast Cancer, four months after being deployed to Afghanistan.”

It is important for our military women to perform self exams, receive annual exams, especially in light of these statistics.  No one is invincible, check yourself and spread awareness to your loved ones!

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