There are scores of things to worry about when living in a foreign country, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for your health to be put on the backburner. While it may be hard for some to buy bras in Japan, there’s nothing that should stop you from taking care of your breast health.
According to their (and government research), nearly 40 percent of women in their 20s, and almost 45 percent of women in their 30s in Japan have not (or do not) get their annual physical examinations. In comparison, both rates are higher than men in Japan who do not get regularly screened. These health screenings are so vital, especially for women, because female-specific cancers, such as breast cancer or cervical cancer, can be detected here in its earlier stages. Unfortunately, however, many women in Japan don’t get their physical examinations done, meaning early detection of breast cancer is scarce.
In fact, an older friend of mine had never even considered getting checked until Empress Emerita Michiko had surgery for breast cancer in September. “It never crossed my mind that my breasts could harbor something that could kill me.” (Junko, Japanese, 53)
Breast Cancer Statistics in Japan
According to the National Cancer Registry Summary published by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, a near one million new cases of cancer were found in Japan in 2016. Women made up almost half of those cases and breast cancer was the most prevalent type, making up 20 percent of all female cases. What is even more terrifying is that the rate of women who lose their lives to breast cancer in Japan is continually increasing: 14,285 women lost the dreaded fight against breast cancer just last year, a number that is more than three times what it was 35 years ago. Consequently, according to the Japan Cancer Society, breast cancer remains the number one leading cause of death of women in Japan aged 30-64.
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