Not Just Girls: Lowering Your Risk of Breast Cancer

Ghosts, Goblins, Ghouls… It’s officially the spookiest day of the year!

Woman-in-pink-hoodie-holding breast-cancer-ribbon
Woman in pink hoodie holding breast cancer ribbon

What if I told you there’s something much scarier lurking out there? This month brings something truly scary out of the shadows and into the spotlight: Breast Cancer. We’re taking this opportunity to teach drivers to learn the ways that you can lower your cancer risk. Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women during their lifetimes and has become a growing issue among truck drivers.

Before all the men stop reading and scroll

to some other post thinking breast cancer only concerns women… think again.  On average, 1 out of 100 breast cancer diagnosis in the United States are male. To put that in perspective, in 2022 alone there have been about 288,000 cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in women, that means nearly 3000 men will be diagnosed as well. How can that be? Breast cancer starts in the breast. This leads most people to assume only women can be diagnosed. However, if the cancer cells spread outside of the breast, they are most likely to enter the lymph nodes in the arm pit.

Men have a lymphatic system, too?

That’s right. Your body has a network of lymph nodes in your chest that filter out waste and bacteria. And if you have breast cancer, these lymph nodes can be affected by the tumor in your breast, which can lead to swelling or enlargement of the lymph node—a symptom called lymphedema. This can cause pain or swelling in the arm where the swollen lymph node is located.

Everyone knows the importance of being aware and early detection. But what are the signs that your breast health is at risk?

The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump in the breast or underarm (armpit). Other signs include thickening or swelling of part of the breast, irritation or dimpling in the skin of your breast, redness or flaky skin in your nipple area, pulling in of your nipple or pain in your nipple area, nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood), any change in the size or shape of your breast, and pain anywhere on your breast.

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately!

What Can I Do?

Take care of your body. It may seem obvious, but majority of disease and illness can be helped, if not completely avoided by simply taking care of your body. This may be more difficult being in this line of work, but it doesn’t change that it’s absolutely vital.

Stay Hydrated

Don’t forget to hydrate. Your lymphatic system and circulatory system rely heavily on fluids. When on the road it’s way too easy to neglect water, relying on coffee and soda to get through the day. According to Mayo Clinic, on average, females need about 2.7 liters of fluid a day while men should be drinking 3.7 liters. For extra nutritional benefits, try adding just a pinch of Celtic sea salt for a boost in essential minerals. Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste salty!

Exercise Daily

It probably feels like you don’t have time to exercise, this doesn’t change the fact that it’s the most critical step in taking care of yourself. This even means preventing breast cancer! That’s right: a little bit of movement every day can go a long way in protecting your health. Hope Zara, the CEO of Mother Trucker Yoga, has created a list of quick and easy exercises optimized for truckers that will allow you to have the best foot forward when it comes to taking care of and improve your breast and chest health:

  • Arm circles help create flow and circulation in your upper body. This little exercise will reduce lymph fluid buildup that shows up when you move around less than you should. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and stretch your arms out at shoulder height. Move your arms in forward circles, starting small and gradually making bigger circles. Reverse the direction every 10 seconds.
  • Cherry picking: put your arms up, overhead. It also helps improving circulation and cardiovascular health and reduces lymph blockage. While standing, raise your arm and reach for the sky. It’s okay if you lean a bit and be sure to repeat it with the other arm.
  • Downward Dog: strengthens the entire body and improves the immune system.
  • Bridge pose: creates an “opening” in the chest and deepen breathing and circulation. This pose is perfect for drivers because they spend so much time sitting. If you ever find yourself hunched forward behind the wheel, closing off the chest. What’s cool about this is that It’s easy to do in the sleeper berth!
  • Neck and chest massage: break up tension and allow blood and lymph to flow more easily through the chest. You can use your fingers or a massage ball around your clavicle, neck and shoulders in the morning and again at night.
  • Truck step pull back stretch: An all-body stretch that focuses on releasing the shoulders, underarm area and lower back. All you’ve got to do is grab the truck step, bench or bar and sit back. Breathe deep and relax your arms to get a super deep stretch.
  • Walking is a great way to keep your lymphatic system in optimum condition. A steady lack of movement poorly impacts the lymphatic system. Try walking in place, add an extra lap about your truck or walk a lap around the parking lot — it all adds up.

This list may seem long, but start small, follow your body and slowly work them into whatever routine works for your unique life and schedule. Make sure to check out the rest of her article here.

Maintain A Healthy Diet

Your lymphatic system works best if you maintain a healthy weight. The true root of any healthy weight is diet and exercise, together, they help you keep your weight down. Obesity has been directly linked to over 12 different types of cancers so the importance of this point cannot go understated. Spending long, sometimes irregular, hours on the road can make good meals and solid nutrition very difficult. However, a little goes a long way. Set aside one night a week for a healthy meal, one where you can truly enjoy and feel good about what you’re eating.

Truck drivers are at a significantly higher risk of developing breast cancer than the general population, primarily due to the lack of physical activity that comes with the job. That’s why breast cancer awareness month is a great time to remind them of easy ways they can reduce their risk of disease.

We’re all in this together

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