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Breast Cancer Health & 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 about services.

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. Some people may need an hour a day or more of moderate physical activity for optimal health.
  • 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.
Other breast cancer resources
  • Understanding Breast Changes and Conditions: Booklet from the National Cancer Institute
  • 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.
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Facts & Resources: Get the latest from the CDC on breast cancer risk factors, symptoms, and screening recommendations.
  • 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.

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 have decreased significantly. The You First program covers cervical cancer screening and diagnostic tests. Find out which screenings are covered.

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. This test is done during a pelvic exam. If the Pap test shows 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 Pap 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. Many people are recommended to begin HPV screenings at age 30.
  • Get an HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccines protect against the Human papillomavirus (HPV) strains that most often cause cervical cancer and other cancers. The HPV vaccines are routinely recommended for 11 and 12-year-olds, and are also recommended for 13 to 26-year-olds who did not get the vaccines when they were younger. People up to age 45 can now get the HPV vaccine. Talk about your vaccine options with your doctor or nurse. People who have been vaccinated against HPV and have a cervix 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 may 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.
Other cervical cancer resources

Heart Health Resources

For members who are 35-64 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 high blood pressure, high cholesterol, 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. Some people may need an hour a day or more of moderate physical activity to maintain optimal health.
  • Eat healthy. Choose foods low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol, and choose foods that are high in fiber. Control your blood pressure and 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.
Other heart health resources
  • 2024 Fitness Calendar: Calendar created by You First to help track your physical activity goals. Call if you would like one mailed to you. 
  • 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.
  • Green Mountain Passport: lifetime pass to VT State Parks for Vermont residents ages 62 and older, available through your town/city clerk's office for $2
  • Go Red For Women: The American Heart Association created this initiative to inspire women and educate the country about heart disease. 
  • MyPlate: Use this mobile app to help create a personalized daily food plan.
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