Breast cancer prevention begins with healthy habits — you can beat the odds by being physically active, limiting alcohol intake and eating food that nourishes your body. Just like life in general, with breast cancer, there are some things in your control and some things that are out of your hands entirely.
Here are some ways to prevent breast cancer:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Women who gain 55 pounds or more after the age of 18 have a 45 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer. Take steps to improve your diet now. Limit sugar, eat smaller portions and choose lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to limit weight gain and lower your risk of developing breast cancer.
- Exercise more. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, boost your body’s immune system, and may even lower estrogen levels, protecting you against breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends 150 minutes of exercise a week to lower overall cancer risk. That’s just 20 minutes a day.
- Breastfeed your babies. Studies show that breastfeeding for a year or longer can reduce your risk of breast cancer. Women who breastfeed have fewer menstrual cycles, resulting in lower estrogen levels. They also tend to eat more nutritious food and lead healthier lifestyles while breastfeeding.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15 percent higher risk of breast cancer when compared to women who don’t drink at all. Experts estimate that the risk of breast cancer goes up another 10 percent for each additional drink you have regularly each day.
- Think twice about HRT. The use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) after menopause increases the risk of developing breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the risks associated with HRT and whether it’s right for you.
Here’s a list of potential risk factors to be on the lookout for:
- Being female
- Increased risk after age 40
- Personal medical history
- Family medical history
- Caucasian descent
- Dense breast tissue
- History of taking DES medication
- Poor lifestyle habits
Healthy living, knowing your risks and getting screened often will keep breast cancer at bay.
There were more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. They make up an army of advocates who have proven to be formidable opponents against the disease. The Bearden-Josey Center for Breast Health is joining forces with your community in the battle against breast cancer and wants to make sure you are well-equipped for a fair fight.