Flashback Friday: Sleep Deprivation Links to Higher Risk of Breast Cancer?

Story by Kanara Ty.

I was always considered the night owl in my family. Ever since college, my sleeping patterns consisted of multiple nights burning the midnight oil (in addition to a couple of all nighters). Simply put, my body was pretty programmed to function better at night because it was the time of the day where I was least distracted and I could be very productive. However, a couple of months ago, I decided that I needed to improve my quality (and quantity) of sleep by adopting a normal sleeping schedule (aka, sleeping earlier and waking up earlier). It’s definitely helped with my mood and skin (well, I think it appears better).

However, I’m sure you all know there’s health benefits to getting more hours of sleep daily, but apparently, according to this NYT article, six or seven hours of sleep is still not enough. The article states that poor sleep does quite a number to your mood, productivity, and physical health (including your metabolism and weight control — this could add up to 10 pounds in a year!), among some factors.

However, one of the more alarming things that I came across in the article for women? A higher risk for breast cancer:

The risk of cancer may also be elevated in people who fail to get enough sleep. A Japanese study of nearly 24,000 women ages 40 to 79 found that those who slept less than six hours a night were more likely to develop breast cancer than women who slept longer. The increased risk may result from diminished secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin. Among participants in the Nurses Health Study, Eva S. Schernhammer of Harvard Medical School found a link between low melatonin levels and an increased risk of breast cancer.

Hear that ladies? Keep the hours of sleep you collect daily in check – and your boobies will love you!

 

This story was re-published in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Click here to find out more about the “Asian Women Don’t Get Breast Cancer” Campaign.

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The “Asian Women Don’t Get Breast Cancer” Campaign

Earlier in the month, we wrote about why Asian women need to care about breast cancer despite the myth that breast cancer is not a worry for Asian women. Luckily, we aren’t the only ones to take note of this issue.

 

The National Asian Breast Cancer Initiative is the first national organization dedicated to raising awareness that breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among Asian women in the United States.

NABCI is a not-for-profit project put together by the efforts of Privy Groupe, the Asian Pacific Community Fund, the Asian and Pacific Islander National Cancer Survivors Network and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum.

This month, timed perfectly with breast cancer awareness month, NABCI is creating a social media campaign called the “Asian women don’t get breast cancer” campaign which aims to shine light on the relationship between Asians and breast cancer.

The title of the campaign is honor of  breast cancer activist Susan Shinagawa:

In 1991, Susan noticed a lump in her breast during her monthly self-exam. Her mammogram came out negative, but a sonogram revealed that the lump was a solid mass.  Two doctors in different states diagnosed Susan with fibrocystic breast disease–lumpy breasts–and both initially refused to do a biopsy because, “Asian women don’t get breast cancer.” After the biopsy, Susan was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and opted for a modified radical mastectomy of her right breast and six months of chemotherapy. Ten years later, a routine mammogram revealed that Susan had an unrelated breast cancer in her left breast, for which she underwent a second mastectomy.

Susan is still in active treatment and has become one of the nation’s leading Asian breast cancer activists.  Susan helped co-found the Asian & Pacific Islander National Cancer Survivors Network (APINCSN), which is a partner of NABCI.  To this day, Susan still meets Asian women (mostly young) diagnosed with breast cancer who were initially told by their healthcare providers that “Asian women don’t get breast cancer.”

 

To make a direct donation to NABCI, checks can be made payable to the “Asian Pacific
Community Fund FBO NABCI”.

Asian Pacific Community Fund
1145 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 105
Los Angeles, CA 90017

All funds will be used towards the following goals:
● build a multi-language information and resource directory website at  asianbreastcancer.org
● produce printed in-language materials that can be distributed to breast cancer outreach centers throughout the U.S.
● solicit and create a Youtube channel for Asian breast cancer survivor stories in multiple languages
● create a medical exchange for U.S. and Asia-based breast cancer doctors to share best practices for detecting and treating breast cancer for Asian women
● organize a national breast cancer awareness campaign targeting Asian women in the U.S. (especially immigrants)
● become an advocate for public policy and research that relate to breast cancer and Asian women in the U.S. and abroad

 

Remember to check out all the reasons this issue needs to be recognized in our community. Tell your loved ones to get checked and help spread the word! Like this campaign on facebook.com/asianbreastcancer and follow them at @aznbreastcancer. Find out more at  www.asianbreastcancer.org

 

Why Asians NEED To Care About Breast Cancer

Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we decided to look into how Asian Americans handle breast cancer. We were shocked by what we discovered.

For years now, Asians have been comforted by the fact that we have the lowest rate of breast cancer in the United States. Unfortunately, this assurance may be the very thing that hinders us from taking the necessary precautions.

Studies from both the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and Komen have confirmed that Asian/Pacific Islanders have the lowest breast cancer rates:

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Although this is true, a number of things are not taken into consideration:

There are various types of Asians.
It is not a good idea to assume you’re safe from breast cancer simply because you’re Asian. In fact, the statistics greatly differ once we take a step closer. According to womenshealth.gov, Japanese American women have the highest rate of breast cancer among Asian Americans. Furthermore, breast cancer is the leading cause of death for Filipino women. Clearly, there are technicalities within the broad term “Asian” which should be paid attention to.

Our numbers are increasing.
Sure, we have the lowest rate of breast cancer and breast cancer deaths now, but that may be changing. Our rates are increasing faster than any other ethnic group. From 1988-2005, we’ve increased approximately 1.2% every year.

Some of us are not as safe as our parents and grandparents. 
According to sampan.org, “Immigrant Asian women who have been living in the United States for 10 years have an 80 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer than their newly arrived A&PI immigrant counterparts.”

We develop breast cancer at a younger age.
Compared to the other ethnic groups, we develop cancer at an earlier age, but we don’t know to address it earlier. In fact, many of us don’t address it at all.

Asian Americans are the least likely to ever get a mammogram.
Although Asian Americans need to take just as much precaution, we have the lowest rate of screenings. Is it because it’s taboo in our culture to discuss this issue? Is it because of the misconception that we’re relatively safe from breast cancer? Either way, there is clearly a lack of breast health/breast cancer education, screening and treatment among Asian American women.

 

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