09/23/2011 11:17 am ET | Updated Nov 23, 2011

Lisa Ling Joins Fight Against Breast Cancer

Lisa Ling wants women to feel themselves up more.

No, not in a dirty way -- to help detect breast cancer earlier. The OWN host and longtime journalist has grown even more passionate about breast cancer awareness after four of her friends -- all under the age of 40 and none with a family history -- were diagnosed with the disease.

“Women need to take a more proactive approach to their health. So many people I know have been diagnosed with it,” Ling told The Huffington Post at a luncheon launching the P&G Give HOPE campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “It’s become an epidemic. The survival rate is high if you detect it early. My whole thing is women just need to start feeling themselves up more.”

Early detection of breast cancer can save thousands of lives each year. The five-year survival rate of a stage-one diagnosis is 98 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Ling’s own sister, Laura, recently detected a cyst which, fortunately, turned out to be benign. Now both sisters keep a breast exam chart in their showers.

“You have to do it all the time,” Ling said of self-exams.

Women have a lot of their plate and few people know that as well as Ling, who now hosts the show “Our America” on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network. However, Ling thinks that breast cancer detection should be high on women’s radars.

“We’re so concerned about our weight. We’re so concerned about what we look like but at the end of the day none of that matters when we’re not healthy,” she said.

Ling plans to address the cancer topic on her show in the upcoming season. She also revealed that she is delighted with how things are going on the brand new network.

“This is the show I have always wanted to do and the next season is even better than the first. The stories are richer and more provocative,” she said. “Oprah has taken a big risk with it and its awesome. We’re covering everything from amateur porn to veterans and PTSD, to the increased numbers of African American men in prisons and human trafficking among minors, so a completely diverse array of stories. Check it out.”