10 things women can do to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer.
Last year alone, there were more than 2 million new diagnoses of breast cancer around the world. Next to skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women and a leading cause of cancer deaths. While men are able to get breast cancer, its occurrence is much greater in women.
The cause of breast cancer seems to be a complex combination of environmental factors, lifestyle, hormones, and your genetic makeup. Until science discovers exactly why some breast cells begin to grow abnormally and a cure is found, women of all walks of life, around the globe, will continue to battle breast cancer.
There’s no sure fire way to prevent breast cancer, but there are things women can do to lower their risk of the dreaded disease. Here are a few.
Get Regular Screenings
The earlier breast cancer is detected, the more likely treatment will be successful. Talk with your doctor about when you should begin to get yearly mammograms and clinical breast exams. Some medical organizations recommend women start getting mammograms at age 40, others recommend age 45 or 50. High-risk women may need a baseline mammogram at an earlier age.
It’s important for women to be familiar with the way their breasts feel so they can recognize any changes or lumps. Once a month, women should perform a breast self-exam. Call your doctor if you notice any new or unusual changes.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer. Postmenopausal weight gain is especially dangerous. If you’re overweight, take the necessary steps to lose weight. Get more exercise and reduce the number of calories you consume.
Drink Less Alcohol
Your risk of breast cancer goes up the more alcohol you drink. Current recommendations encourage women to drink no more than one drink a day. One drink is equal to 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
Get More Exercise
Living an active lifestyle reduces your risk of breast cancer. Besides being active throughout your day, plan to get at least half an hour of moderate intensity exercise five days a week. Include cardio as well as strength training exercises in your routine.
Smoking increases your risk of developing various types of cancer, including breast cancer. Women can reduce their risk of all kinds of diseases by not smoking. So either put down the cigarettes today or if you don’t smoke, don’t start.
Women who breastfeed their babies are doing not only their babies a favor but also their breasts. For some reason, breastfeeding seems to have a protective effect on the breasts.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a Mediterranean diet lowers your risk of breast cancer. This healthy eating plan includes mostly plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and olive oil. Fish, rather than red meat, is a main source of protein.
Limit Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy for postmenopausal women has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer. With that in mind, hormone therapy should be used to relieve the unpleasant symptoms that accompany menopause only in rare cases. If hormones are used, go with the lowest possible dose for a limited amount of time.
Chemoprevention or Surgery
Other preventative measures may be recommended for women with a very high risk for breast cancer. This includes women with a family history of the disease and a precancerous breast condition. Chemoprevention medications block the effects of estrogen and may reduce a woman’s risk of cancer. Surgery to remove the breasts and avoid cancer is a last resort option, but some women have taken this extreme step.