Friday, December 21, 2012

Substance Abuse Treatment and Breast Cancer Awareness

Substance abuse treatment and breast cancer may not seem to have an obvious link, but there is a connection between the two. Research has actually discovered a relationship between alcohol and breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, where women all around the world are encouraged to not only raise awareness about the disease, but take steps toward early detection.

Substance Abuse Treatment and Breast Cancer

The Link

Scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found a connection between excessive alcohol consumption and an increased risk of breast cancer. Specifically, drinking habits of women after their first period and prior to a first pregnancy can have an impact on their risk. A woman who has an average of one alcoholic drink each day between her first period and first pregnancy can increase her chances by 13 percent.

The findings don't target women who don't have children, but the Journal of the American Medical Association does report that an increased amount of alcohol consumption is still related to an increased risk of breast cancer, regardless of pregnancy. Statistics predict that 1 out of 9 women in America have a risk of developing breast cancer.

Early Detection During Substance Abuse Treatment

Substance abuse treatment can have a massive impact on the life of a woman who is dealing with addiction. Could treatment also reduce her risk of developing breast cancer? We don't have that information, but we do know that early detection seems to improve your chances. It's never easy to battle an addiction, just as it's never easy to deal with a cancer diagnosis. Doing breast self-checks while you're undergoing substance abuse treatment may be the last thing on your mind, but it could save your life.

The more we know about cancer and addiction, the more we can educate others. You should perform a breast self-exam every month, and women who are 40 and older should have a mammogram every 1 or 2 years. If you are unable to afford a mammogram, look into the NBCF National Mammography Program, which partners with facilities around the country to provide free breast care services to eligible women.

The healthy lifestyle skills that you learn during substance abuse treatment can also have the bonus side effect of reducing your risk of breast cancer. Although we can't prevent cancer, leading a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk. Pay attention to the nutrition and fitness information that you receive during treatment, and apply it in your every day life.

Ben Brafman, LMHC, CAP is the President and CEO of Destination Hope, a licensed dual diagnosis substance abuse treatment center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Ben has more than 20 years of experience in the addiction and mental health fields, which led him to develop a combination of innovative treatment protocols at Destination Hope. He has been published on various topics including dual diagnosis and chemical dependency, and gives back to the community by educating other addiction counselors at his Academy for Addiction Professionals.