Updated: Jul 14
Breast cancer. These words can make many women worry. And that’s natural.
Nearly someone they knew touched by this disease.
No need to worry. There is a lot of good news about breast cancer nowadays.
Treatments are keep getting better, and we know more than ever about ways to prevent the disease. These ten simple steps can help lower the risk of breast cancer. Not all these steps applies to every woman, but together they can have a big impact.
How to reduce your risk:
Various research shows that lifestyle changes can decrease the risk of breast cancer, even in women at high risk.
To lower your risk follow the following steps:
1. Avoid Too Much Alcohol. The more alcohol you have, higher your risk of developing breast cancer. The general recommendation — based on research on the effect of alcohol on breast cancer risk — is to limit yourself to less than one drink a day, as even small amounts increase risk. A healthy diet can help lower the risk of breast cancer. Try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and keep alcohol at moderate levels or lower (a drink a day or under).
2. Don't smoke. Smokers and non-smokers alike know how unhealthy smoking is. On top of lowering quality of life and increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and at least 17 cancers – including breast cancer – this also causes smelly breath, bad teeth, and wrinkles.
Evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women.
3. Weight Control. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause. Avoid gaining weight over time.
Maintain a body-mass index of 25 or less (calculators can be found online - https://tinyurl.com/y4nfa6zp).
4. Find out how dense your breasts are:
Learning whether you have dense breasts is the newest ways to protect yourself. When you have more tissue than fat in your breasts, which is common in younger women, it makes cancer harder to detect on a mammogram: Both tumors and breast tissue show up in white matter, while fat looks dark matter.
Having dense breasts makes you six times more likely to develop cancer. Experts aren’t sure why that is, but one possibility is the fact that there is no standardization for measurement of breast density, so doctors’ scores are subjective.
A majority of states have enacted bills that require your health care provider to provider information about your breast density on your mammogram report. Several other states are working on or have at least introduced similar bills.
5. Be physically active. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which helps prevent breast cancer. Most healthy adults should aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.
Increased physical activity, even when begun later in life, reduces overall breast-cancer risk by at least 10 percent. All it takes is moderate exercise like a 30-minute walk five days a week to get this protective effect.
6. Breast-feed. Breast-feeding might play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect. Women who breast-feed their babies for at least a year in total have a reduced risk of developing breast cancer later.
7. Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy:
Combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer. If you're taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor about other options. You might be able to manage your symptoms with non-hormonal therapies and medications. If you decide that the benefits of short-term hormone therapy outweigh the risks, use the lowest dose that works for you and continue to have your doctor monitor the length of time you're taking hormones.
8. Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution:
Medical-imaging methods, such as computerized tomography, use high doses of radiation. While more studies are needed, some research suggests a link between breast cancer and cumulative exposure to radiation over your lifetime. Reduce your exposure by having such tests only when absolutely necessary.
9. Consider taking an estrogen-blocking drug:
Women with a family history of breast cancer or who are over age 60 should talk to their doctor about the pros and cons of estrogen-blocking drugs such as tamoxifen and raloxifene.
10. A battle plan for survivors:
Eating right, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and being vigilant about screening can help you prevent a recurrence. You should also talk with your doctor about additional screenings—you may want to add ultrasound or MRI to your regimen.
If you’re taking tamoxifen to treat breast cancer, your doctor might recommend you stay on it longer. A study recently presented at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology conference found that women who took the drug for 10 years instead of 5 had a significant reduction in the risk of recurrence.
What else you can do?
Be vigilant about breast cancer detection. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump or skin changes, consult your doctor. Also, ask your doctor when to begin mammograms and other screenings based on your personal history.
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