"Be A Breast Friend" Launched In Niagara

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Hair stylists in southwestern Ontario are becoming their clients' Breast Friends as part of a new public health initiative – Be a Breast Friend.

Starting this month, stylists are encouraged to talk with their clients about the importance of having regular mammograms, especially for women who are 50 and older, to detect breast cancer in the early stages when it is most treatable.

"Based on our research, we found that women have a unique personal relationship with their hair stylists. They tell them things they wouldn't even tell their best friends," states Melanie Seguin, health promoter at Niagara Region Public Health. "Women trust their stylists and listen to their advice, which makes them the perfect people to talk to women about having regular mammograms."

The Be a Breast Friend Project is a joint initiative among public health units in Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk, Halton, Hamilton, and Niagara. It is funded by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-Ontario Region, and its partners include the Canadian Cancer Society and the Ontario Breast Screening Program.

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Salons and stylists who participate in the program receive free educational resources including the Canadian Cancer Society's Thingamaboobs and copies of Squeeze magazine. Stylists may talk to clients about four main issues:

* mammograms can save lives by finding breast changes in the early stages

* women 50 and older need regular mammograms every one to two years

* women 50 and older can book their own free mammograms by calling the Ontario Breast Screening Program at 1-800-668-9304

* all women should understand how their breasts normally look and feel and talk to their doctors about any changes

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