FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Close your eyes and count, "1,001, 1,002, 1,003." Every three seconds a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer somewhere in the world.

The 10th annual Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon, Oct. 9 at the San Antonio Country Club, was attended by many breast cancer survivors who advocated early detection.

"Women, 40 and older, should get a routine mammogram once a year. The lifetime risk for women is one-in-eight and as we get older our risk increases," said Mary Jimenez, emcee and member of the Breast Cancer Awareness Committee.

Keynote speaker for the event, Dr. Maria Theodoulou, attending physician at the Breast Cancer Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and professor at Cornell University, said she became fascinated with breast cancer as an intern because of its diversity in presentation.

"It is a heterogeneous mix of multiple diseases under the misnomer breast cancer. In a month I see 20 to 25 different kinds. It's like playing detective," she said. It may act very differently in two different women who have two different environments," said Theodoulou, adding that certain dietary risks exist.

"Caffeine may cause cists in the breast, but multiple studies have shown that alcohol is the number one dietary factor associated with breast cancer. If you drink three drinks a day, no matter what it is, your risk increases by 60 percent."

Theodoulou advised regular screenings, a moderate lifestyle, exercise, a healthy diet plus sharing experiences through "Tell a Friend," an American Cancer Society program designed to help increase breast cancer awareness.

With "Tell a Friend," trained volunteers contact five friends or acquaintances to encourage them to get screenings and mammograms.

Breast cancer survivors in the audience did greet each other as old friends, shared stories and lit candles in celebration of their triumphs over the disease.

Grace James, a 65-year-old breast cancer survivor, said she completed the Danskin Triathlon one year after diagnosis. The triathlon consisted of a half mile swim, a 19K (12 miles) bike ride and a 5K (3.1 miles) run.

"I was one of 12 women over 65-years-old and we all finished," she said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16