Pink is the new black (and orange)

Whether it’s the National Football League’s bright pink cleats or that little pink ribbon celebrities are sporting, chances are you’ve noticed a lot of pink mixed in with the traditional fall colors this month.

The bright color may have distracted you and perhaps you even associate it with Breast Cancer Awareness, but have you ever actually stopped to realize what that means?

I know I haven’t. Until I read an article this month entitled “The Real Deal on Young Women and Breast Cancer” published in Glamour magazine. I thought it was really cool that athletes and so many people support Breast Cancer Awareness, but as a 20-year-old girl, I didn’t believe it actually affected me.

This article reminded me that it does.

While it is true that younger women are less likely than those over 40 to develop breast cancer, when they do, the cases can be much more severe, the article said. This is because breast cancer in younger women tends to be more aggressive, and it is also harder to spot cancer in younger women because the breast tissue is denser.

“On a mammogram, dense breast tissue is white, and breast cancer is white,” former breast surgeon Susan Love, M.D., said in the article. “It’s like looking for a polar bear in the snow.”

I bet all you young ladies reading this are feeling stellar right now. But don’t let these facts overwhelm you. There are so many things young women can do to reduce the risk of breast cancer and many ways to detect it early.

Eating healthy and exercising regularly can reduce the risk of many diseases, breast cancer included, but there are other small things women can do alongside these.

According to an article on, “women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer,” compared to those who don’t drink at all.

Parties are a big part of college life, but it’s important to remember that going to a party doesn’t mean you need to drink. You can be sober and still have a good time.

Other things young women need to be aware of are exposure to chemicals in certain cosmetics and being exposed to light late at night, according to another article on

While most students don’t work overnight jobs, I know I’ve had my fair share of late nights writing papers or cramming for an exam. And most cosmetic companies are targeting girls in their late teens and early twenties.

I’m not saying to immediately throw out all of your cosmetics and shut off those lights at 10 every night, but I was surprised at how many little ways there are to reduce the risk of breast cancer, and they are things we can start doing right now.

It is in our mid-twenties that women are recommended to start getting pap smears and breast exams, according to, but there are signs we can look for on our own as well.

Some of these include redness or irritation, swelling, breast or nipple pain and/or nipple discharge, according to

This information is a lot, and if you’re like me, it is a little overwhelming, but being aware of the risks, symptoms and preventions are what this month is all about.

Don’t forget the reason for that pink ribbon this month is because of women just like you, and it’s important to understand all of what that ribbon really means. To you. Not in twenty years, but right now.