BREAST cancer is one of the most common types of cancers, affecting one in eight women during their lifetime, but what can be done to prevent it?
Breast Cancer UK (BCUK) is one of the country’s leading charities for breast cancer prevention.
Recently, they launched a scheme called the ambassador project and they are looking for people around Greater Manchester to get involved with sharing their important message.
Nikki Mattei, the ambassador project manager for BCUK, has been involved with this cause for around 15 years. She is passionate about leading a healthy lifestyle and making positive changes to lower one’s risk of getting breast cancer.
The difference between BCUK and other leading charities working for the same disease, is that the latter are working towards a cure whilst BCUK want to show people that it can be prevented in the first place.
Nikki said: “Of course survival rates have improved and that is important… but there should be a greater focus on prevention.”
BCUK’s ambassador project is focused on recruiting people to volunteer a few hours a month to go around to places within the community and give a talk about breast cancer prevention.
The ambassadors are able to raise awareness of this important issue and allow people to see what little lifestyle changes they can make to reduce their risk.
Risk factors that may cause breast cancer:
One of the main things that is thought to cause breast cancer, and that BCUK want to make people aware of, is endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC’s).
EDC’s can be found in many everyday products from cosmetics to food. EDC’s can act like oestrogen in the body and high levels of oestrogen are a risk factor in developing breast cancer.
Nikki said, “People aren’t always aware of these endocrine disrupting chemicals, but they are in so many of our products!”
At talks leaded by the ambassadors, a leaflet is given out to people with information on the names of EDC’s so that everyone is able to read the ingredients in certain products and know if they contain an EDC or not.
Providing people with this awareness allows them to make better choices and more informed decisions.
Other things that may increase your risk of getting breast cancer include poor diet and stress, or more specific things such as having children later on in life.
Even though erasing one of these factors from your life will not stop you from ever developing the disease, it will however reduce your risk.
Nikki explains: “it might be something like stress that just pushes someone over the edge.”
BCUK Ambassador Project aim:
The aim of the project is to spread BCUK’s message that making lifestyle changes does not have to be difficult or expensive, and may even be enjoyable.
After ambassador talks, people are encouraged to think about one change they could make and share it on social media using #reduceyourrisk.
Nikki said, “Starting the journey is the difficult bit… it’s about leading a happy and healthy life.”
BCUK are currently looking for young people in Manchester to volunteer as ambassadors as there are often a lot of requests for talks in the North West.
The project is open to anyone who wants to raise awareness of breast cancer and is passionate about the cause.
There is plenty of support for the ambassadors as well, including a newsletter and Facebook group where all the ambassadors are able to share advice and information with one another.
Nikki said, “It’s not going out shaking a tin, which a lot of people feel uncomfortable with, it’s more about raising awareness and helping people to start making changes to their lives.”