Jason Waldron - Protection specialist

Think pink : Be Breast Cancer aware

With roughly one in eight women developing breast cancer in their lifetime, the odds are good that nearly everyone is affected by this disease in some way. Whether it’s a personal diagnosis or that of a loved one, finding answers to your questions and a supportive community of people who understand the experience can make all the difference. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are focusing on educating our readers.

Cancer in the Middle East

Breast cancer accounts for USD 8.2 million of total benefits paid by us in the Middle East. When we take a look at our Customer Benefits Paid report, we see that 34% of life benefits we paid was due to cancer. And 54% of critical illness benefits paid out by us was due to cancer. While these statistics alone are concerning, the next natural question is ‘What can I do to prevent cancer?’

While there is no sure way to prevent cancer, there are things you can do that might lower your risk. When looking specifically at breast cancer, many risk factors are beyond your control, such as being born female and getting older. But other risk factors can be managed and may lower your risk.

But there is a lot of good news about breast cancer these days. Treatments keep advancing, and we know more now than ever about ways to prevent the disease. These three simple changes can help lower the risk of breast cancer. Not every one applies to every woman, but together they can have a big impact.

Get moving

Many studies show that moderate to vigorous physical activity is linked with lower breast cancer risk, so it’s important to get regular physical activity. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week, preferably spread throughout the week – rather than in one epic exercise session.

Exercise is as close to a silver bullet for good health as there is, and women who are physically active for at least 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer. Regular exercise is also one of the best ways to help keep weight in check, helping manage the risk of lifestyle-based illnesses too.

Eat right

No matter what the glossy magazines will tell you, with articles around the latest superfoods, no specific food can cause or prevent breast cancer. However, dietary guidelines may help you reduce your overall breast cancer risk.

For example, eating a diet rich in antioxidants can be beneficial. Antioxidants help protect your cells from free radicals. Free radicals are molecules released by toxins, they not only have been linked to cancer, but also may contribute to premature aging and heart disease. Recent research revealed that people who ate the most organic food had a 24% reduced risk of cancer compared to those who ate the least.

Making proactive dietary choices has no downside. In addition to potentially reducing your risk for breast cancer, healthy eating can improve your overall well-being: it helps keep your energy up, boost your immune system, and provide nutrients your body needs for maintenance and repair.

Don’t forget screening

Just like food, genetic factors are also part of the picture. Women with a strong family history of cancer can take special steps to protect themselves, so it’s important for women to know their family history. You may be at high risk of breast cancer if you have a mother or sister who developed breast cancer.

A doctor can help you understand your family history of the disease. Studies show that breast cancer screening with mammography saves lives. It doesn’t help prevent cancer, but it can help find cancer early when it’s most treatable.  For most women, regular mammograms can begin at age 40, but specific recommendations vary by age and risk.

Unfortunately, there are also a number of important breast cancer risk factors that women have no control over. Knowing which ones apply to you can help you understand your risk and do what you can to lower it. If you feel you’re at high risk, talk to a doctor.

How can we help you?

At Zurich, our proposition has evolved to address the increased frequency of cancer cases we’ve seen through the increase in the total benefits paid out. This is why we’ve built a cost-effective products offering cancer-only cover.  We also provide free children’s critical illness cover for up to three children when you take up a critical illness benefit, free office and home nurse screening and the option of a second medical opinion upon diagnosis of breast cancer.

I’ve personally been affected by breast cancer within my family. It was a difficult time for us that I wish we had been better informed about and prepared for. While there’s less I can do about the past, it would be an injustice to have a platform and not use it to share insights to promote awareness about health and well-being, and the power of protecting ourselves and our loved ones.In this spirit, we share the story of one of our customers, Hui Shao a cancer survivor with a positive attitude to life.

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