Teachers may be at higher risk for breast cancer

In the past three years, about 600 Educators Health Alliance members have been treated for breast cancer, with approximately three of those members being men. Those 600 members represent 3% of educators who utilize the EHA plan, but an even smaller fraction of the 13% of women and men who are diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. each year. Of that 13%, about 1% are men.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention holds breast cancer as the second most common cancer among women in the U.S., next only to skin cancer. Black women die from breast cancer at a higher rate than White women – and some research suggests that teachers are at an even higher risk than those in other occupations.

A study published in Occupational Medicine in June 2007 showed teachers in the U.S., Sweden and China were at higher risk of death from breast cancer. The study linked the data to educators at all grade levels, including preschool, primary, secondary and university teachers, and found that low activity levels and continued exposure to carcinogenic dyes in the school setting may contribute to the cause.

Researchers at the University of California studied 133,500 public school teachers and administrators in the late 1990s and found that female educators were diagnosed with breast cancer at a rate 51% higher than other California women.

One of the most accessible ways to prevent breast cancer or other disease and illness is to keep yourself healthy. EHA Wellness offers participants wellness challenges and programs to encourage healthy eating, exercise, sleep, hydration and mindfulness. Every other month, EHA Wellness offers a challenge targeting one of these areas. In addition, Core Wellness Trackers encourage participants all year long to accomplish small or large behavior changes that result in decreased risk for cancer and other diseases.

Whether you are preventing illness or battling breast cancer, Headspace, a mindfulness app, can help decrease stress and anxiety. Meditation and mindfulness have been shown to help with healing and recovery during an illness as well as the prevention of future illness by bringing calm to the body and mind, which decreases overall stress in the body. Headspace offers breathing exercises, yoga, sleep casts for better and deeper sleep, and meditation exercises. Headspace is a free mindfulness and meditation app that is available to all EHA Wellness participants.

These programs are available to members at www.ehawellness.org.