This Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October 2015), we are giving you an update on the latest news about protecting yourself. Advances in detection, treatment and prevention can help you reduce your breast cancer risk.

African American women are still less likely to get breast cancer, but because of many factors, we are more likely to lose our lives to the disease. Here’s how to safeguard your health:

Early Detection Is Still the Best Lifesaver

The Affordable Care Act promises that all women over 40 are guaranteed free annual mammograms as part of their “well woman” physical, but there's a loophole. (Rhoda Baer/NIH-Public Domain)

Keep up with your mammograms, and get to know your body, advises Funmi Olopade, M.D.. (Rhoda Baer/NIH-Public Domain)

Breast cancer survival rates increase every year as new and better treatments are discovered, but a new study, released the first week of October, reports that early detection is still one of the most important factors when it comes to surviving the disease.

We also know that at least some of the survival gap that affects black women can be attributed to our tendency to be diagnosed at the later stages of the disease. The solution is to keep up with your mammograms and get to know your body, recommends Funmi Olopade, M.D., in her advice on taking charge of your breast cancer risk. You can also create your personal early detection plan with these guidelines from the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Embrace New Information

Reports about black women and breast cancer frighten many women away from learning all that they can. But, when it comes to breast cancer, the old saying “forewarned is forearmed” is the absolute truth.

Research released in September by Partners Health Care (a group formed by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital) revealed that there are genetic differences behind the aggressive type of breast cancer that occurs in black women.

Tumors in black women have a “significantly higher prevalence of the TP53 driver mutation [TP53 is supposed to guard against unregulated cell growth in the body], basal tumor subtype and greater genomic diversity within tumors, all of which suggest more aggressive tumor biology,” said the study’s lead author, Tanya Keenan, M.D., in a hospital interview.

This breakthrough in the understanding of aggressive (also called triple negative or basal cell) breast cancer in black women means that scientists now have a greater chance of created a targeted, more effective treatments.

Eat to Live

(gordana jovanovic)

Healthy, low-fat foods can lower your risk of all types of cancer. (Photo: Gordana Jovanovic)

A new study reports that the Mediterranean Diet, the eating plan that lowers your risk of heart disease and hypertension, also lowers your risk of breast cancer. One of the most important parts of the diet for breast cancer prevention, the study found, was extra-virgin olive oil.

“There is some evidence with animal studies that extra-virgin olive oil, which is rich in polyphenols, may induce programmed cell death or early cancer cells in the breast,” said Martinez-Gonzalez, senior author of the study, in a Reuters’ interview.

Lots of evidence also indicates that eating a simple diet of healthy, low-fat foods can lower your risk of all types of cancer. The American Cancer Society’s nutrition guidelines can help you design your own healthy eating plan.

Don’t Just Sit There

Listening to your favorite songs makes you want to move more! (Getty Images)

Keep it moving! If you hate the gym, then bike, hike, walk with friends — or dance. Listening to your favorite songs makes you want to move more! (Getty Images)

We’re not saying you shouldn’t relax and put your feet up once in a while, but the latest research confirms what several other studies have found — being a couch potato is terrible for your health. Sedentary living increases your risk of developing cancer in general, including breast cancer.

The remedy? Make sure you live an active life. If you hate the gym, then dance, bike, hike, walk with friends — keep it moving!

Live Clean

Research strongly suggests a link between breast cancer and smoking or inhaling second-hand smoke. And yet another recent report identified a possible connection between drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day and breast cancer.  Having a glass of wine with dinner every now and then may even be healthy, but overdoing it may cause harm.

Learn All You Can

Keep up with the latest news on black women and breast cancer by visiting the websites of organizations such as the African American Breast Cancer Alliance, the Sisters Network, Inc. and the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation. The groups also offer information on finding culturally sensitive support groups no matter where you live.