That was my Facebook status yesterday, and I kept it up as long as I could stand it. I’m not usually one to follow the crowd, but this particular crowd was wearing pink ribbons, so I obliged.
In case you’ve been living in a cave, this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and yesterday I and thousands of other women in changing my Facebook status to state where I like to put my purse, beginning with the words “I like it on …” Needless to say, I got some interesting responses – including several private e-mails – as did other women (and at least one gay acquaintance) who participated in this grassroots effort to get everyone thinking about breast cancer. Network and cable news as well as thousands of media outlets talked, blogged and Tweeted about it. There was a lot of criticism about diminishing the graveness of the disease, but the goal was to encourage awareness.
Here’s something you may not know: Black women can reduce their breast cancer risk by 64 percent by exercising vigorously for just two hours a week, according to a new study. Vanessa Sheppard, assistant professor at Georgetown and the study’s lead researcher, says there’s always been a lack of data about the association of physical activity and breast cancer in African-American women, despite the fact the overall benefits of exercise are widely known.
The study included 97 Washington, D.C., area African American women with recently diagnosed breast cancer and 102 from the area without breast cancer who reported on their physical activity over the past year. Results showed that black women who exercised vigorously for at least two hours a week had a 64 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer, compared to those who are sedentary.
Think about that next time you tell someone you can’t go to the gym because you don’t want to sweat out your hairstyle.
Remember: a whopping 80 percent of black women are either overweight or obese. We’re dying of preventable, obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and hypertension at an alarming rate.
Other study results:
· Black women who engaged in moderate exercise, like walking had a 17 percent reduced risk.
· Black women with breast cancer tend to be overweight and have more chronic conditions at diagnosis compared to white women.
Though more white women are diagnosed with breast cancer, African-American women are at higher risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer, as well as the most aggressive form of the disease, known as triple-negative breast cancer.
Just think: We may be able to greatly reduce our risk by working up a serious sweat merely two hours a week.
There is no breast cancer in my immediate family, but that doesn’t mean I’m in the clear. Not by a long shot. I support breast cancer awareness, and am now even more aware of the need to continue to push myself at the gym. (By the way, I somehow hurt my left shoulder during yesterday’s boot-camp session. But it’s a good hurt.)
On October 1, I changed my Facebook profile pic to a sequined version of the breast cancer pin and will keep it there until month’s end. It’s all about awareness.
By the way, I also like it on the back of the family-room couch.
Cancer is a word, not a sentence. ~ John Diamond
Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.