There’s a lot to be thankful for in October. The humidity is gone, you can rock your favorite flannel again, pumpkin spice flavoring is everywhere and the Packers are back on TV. It’s also a month where we recognize breast cancer awareness and the millions of women (and men) that have battled this disease.
You might think of primary care providers, or individual behavior choices when it comes to preventing breast cancer. But your public health department is focusing on the environment (structurally and socially) to make our communities healthier places to live, before you need a primary care physician (BARHII Framework).
Public health initiatives to decrease rates of breast cancer
- Disease surveillance, or “tracking health data,” is a big part of public health. It’s the way that we can help raise awareness, request funding streams and show which initiatives work best. County Health Rankings are just one of the sources we use to track trends related to breast cancer.
- Reduce smoking rates. Trying to quit smoking can be a frustrating and exhaustive effort. The best solution is to never start using tobacco products. re:TH!NK, the Lakeshore Tobacco Prevention Network works on policy change that will reduce tobacco’s burden on people’s lives. Policies like placing more responsibility on non-compliant retailers that sell to youth are more successful in limiting the exposure of tobacco to youth. Check out their latest win; Tobacco-Free Parks Rule in Oshkosh.
- Increase physical activity by creating places and spaces for people to move. We’re trying to make socially healthy events more normal. The Winnebago County Bike + Ped Plan is just one example of changing the structural environment to make biking and walking easier for residents.
- Increase breastfeeding rates. Breastfeeding >12 months was associated with reduced risk of breast and ovarian carcinoma by 26% and 37%, respectively. Breastfeeding trends are improving in WI but there are still inequities across race, income and education. At WCHD we are committed to improving breastfeeding rates in multiple ways:
- Support childcare centers and public employers to become breastfeeding friendly locations.
- Serve as a breast milk depot.
- Our locations (Oshkosh & Neenah), have lactation rooms available for the public.
- Host educational classes. We have a Board Certified Lactation Consultant and Breastfeeding Champions on staff and can arrange for breastfeeding classes for your community groups.
- Learn more about WCHD’s breastfeeding initiatives and resources on our website.
What can you do?
While we understand that changing the environment is where our focus needs to be – that process takes more time and resources that the immediate actions you can take today. So we ask one major thing of you while to help with breast cancer prevention.
Increase cancer screenings. The Wisconsin Well Women’s Program not only promotes breast cancer awareness and screenings but can help with the financial costs of mammography. In 2017, Winnebago County enrolled 88 women, had 59 screened for breast cancer and diagnosed 2 cases of breast cancer. It could be your mom, sister, co-worker – we encourage you to talk to our staff about eligibility today. Call (920)727-8650, Text (920)249-5111 or fill out this online form and someone will contact you. View this video for a program description.
And that is why October, is the breast month ever
As you can see we’re working hard to change the tide on many different levels and with many different health access points. We are proud of our breast work and ready to raise the noise in October to celebrate all the success of breast cancer awareness. Tag us on Facebook or Twitter with @WinnebagoHealth telling us why you feel October is the #BreastMonthEver!
Subscribe to the Winnebago County Health Department’s monthly Public Service Announcement by selecting “Community List”.