BREAST CANCER HEALTH AND PREVENTION RESOURCES
Remember, we pay for breast cancer screenings for members, including mammograms. If tests show potential signs of cancer, we also pay for follow-up tests. Learn more here.
There is no known cause of breast cancer. While some risk factors, such as age, race and environment cannot be changed, there are other things you can do to reduce your chance of getting breast cancer.
- Be physically active. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity almost every day and for two strength-training sessions every week. Many women may need an hour a day or more of moderate physical activity to maintain a steady weight or to promote slow weight loss.
- Stay at a healthy weight. Talk to your health care provider about what a healthy weight for you is and try to stay at that weight.
- Don’t drink alcohol, or limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one per day.
- Breastfeed your children, if possible.
- If you are taking, or have been told to take, hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives (birth control pills), ask your doctor about the risks and find out if it is right for you.
- Breast Cancer Risk and Prevention: Learn more from the American Cancer Society about what you can do to reduce your risk and prevent breast cancer.
- Detecting Breast Cancer Early: The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. shares how breast cancer can be found early.
- FORCE: Consider checking out this organization that’s dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by hereditary breast, ovarian and related cancers.
- Casting for Recovery: The mission of the Casting for Recovery organization is to enhance the quality of life of women with breast cancer through a unique retreat program that combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing.
- Stowe Weekend of Hope: Learn about an annual Vermont-based weekend getaway that’s dedicated to cancer survivors.
Cervical cancer health and prevention resources
Cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death for women in the U.S. Thanks to the HPV vaccine, as well as screening and diagnostic tests, the number of cervical cancer cases and deaths has decreased significantly. The You First program covers cervical cancer screening and diagnostic tests. Find out which ones here.
Cervical cancer is usually a slow growing cancer that develops over many years, and changes to the cervix can be seen in a Pap test (which You First Members can get for free!). This simple test is done during a pelvic exam. Should the Pap test show abnormal cell growth, the cells can be removed before they become cancerous. Keep the following in mind to reduce your risk:
- Get a Pap test. The Pap test (also known as a Pap smear) looks for precancerous cell changes on the cervix that may become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately. Talk to your doctor about when to start screening for cervical cancer. Many people are recommended to begin screenings between ages 21 and 25.
- Get an HPV test. The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes. Talk with your provider about when to begin HPV testing.
- Get an HPV vaccine. Two HPV vaccines are available to protects against the HPV strains that most often cause cancer. Both vaccines are routinely recommended for 11 and 12 year olds, as well as for 13-26 year olds who did not receive the vaccines when they were younger. It is important to note that those who have been vaccinated against HPV should still have regular Pap tests.
- Practice safe sex. 80% of people will get an HPV infection in their lifetime. You can be infected with HPV by having vaginal, oral or anal sex with someone already infected with the virus. Safe sexual practices like using barriers/condoms and regular sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STI/STD) testing for both you and your partners can help reduce your risk of HPV infection.
- Don't smoke. Smoking can cause cancer and then block your body from fighting it. For resources on quitting smoking and other tobacco, visit 802Quits.
- Cervical Cancer (CDC): Learn more about risk factors, prevention tips and more.
- Cancer Support Community: A global network offering high-quality trusted cancer support to millions who’ve been touched by cancer.
- National Cervical Cancer Coalition: Discover this organization that’s dedicated to helping women, family members and caregivers battle the personal issues related to cervical cancer and HPV. It also aims to advocate for cervical health in all women.
Heart health resources
For members who are 30-64 years old, we can pay for heart disease screenings. Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death among women in the U.S. Factors like obesity, high blood pressure and smoking raise your risk of developing heart disease. Screenings help you understand your individual risk so you can work with your health care team to lower it. Review which heart health screenings we cover here.
There are many things you can do to lower your risk of heart disease (some of these are cancer prevention strategies, too). These include the following:
- Don’t smoke and avoid being around people who are smoking. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., including heart disease, stroke and many types of cancer. Second-hand smoke is a known human carcinogen. It’s been linked to lung cancer.
- Be physically active. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity almost every day and for two strength-training sessions every week. That said, some people may need an hour a day or more of moderate physical activity to maintain a steady weight or to achieve slow weight loss.
- Stay at a healthy weight. Find out what a healthy weight for you is and try to stay at that weight.
- Eat healthy. Choose foods low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol. Opt for higher-fiber foods and control your blood pressure. Try to keep your blood pressure below 120/80.
- Learn to manage stress. People with high levels of stress are more likely to develop heart disease. Find out what causes the most stress in your life and see if anything can be done to lessen that. Reach out to family and friends if you need to talk or need help with a hard situation. Try to find a few minutes every day to sit quietly or do something that’s fun or relaxing for you. If you need suggestions, try journaling, listening to calming music or going for a relaxing walk outside. For help finding mental health resources, call 2-1-1.
- Note: If you already have heart disease, these tips can help decrease its severity or prevent it from getting worse.
- 802Quits: Free VT-provided resources to help you quit smoking for good.
- MyHealthyVT Workshops: Free, online healthy living workshops created by the CDC and run by experienced, local health coaches. High blood pressure, quit smoking, diabetes prevention and management workshops are available at no cost to Vermonters.
- Go Red For Women: The American Heart Association created this initiative to inspire women and educate the country about heart disease.
- BMI Calculator: See if you’re eligible for certain weight loss programs with this American Heart Association resource. If you have questions, call us or consult a health care professional.
- MyPlate: Use this mobile app to help create a personalized daily food plan.
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