Breast Cancer: How to Reduce Your Risks

With October coming to an end, I wanted to spend a little time discussing healthy ways to lower your risk of breast cancer.

Every woman wants to know what she can do to lower her risk of breast cancer. Some of the factors associated with breast cancer — being a woman, your age, and your genetics, for example — can’t be changed. Other factors — being overweight, lack of exercise, drinking alcohol, and eating unhealthy food — can be changed by making choices. By choosing the healthiest lifestyle options possible, you can empower yourself and make sure your breast cancer risk is as low as possible.

Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Here are 5 healthy lifestyle choices you can make
to reduce your own risk of breast cancer:

1. Maintain a healthy weight

Obesity is not just linked to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, but also to cancer. A recent study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology shows that young women who are obese have a 34 percent increased risk of dying of breast cancer. Gaining weight after menopause further increases the risk of breast cancer.

If you have gained weight, losing weight may lower your risk of breast cancer.

2. Add exercise to your routine

Physical activity not only burns energy (calories), but may also help lower the risk of breast cancer, especially for postmenopausal women. This is because exercise may lower estrogen levels, fight obesity and may boost the function of immune system cells that attack tumors. Here is all it takes to get started:

Before you start a new exercise program, see your doctor if you:

*Have been inactive for a long time
*Are overweight
*Have a high risk of heart disease

Include physical activity in your daily routine. All you need is moderate (where you break a sweat) activity — like brisk walking for 30 minutes a day.

Do whatever physical activity you enjoy most and gets you moving. After exercising, think about how good you feel. Use that feeling to motivate you the next time. If you are already physically active, keep up the good work!

3. Limit alcohol intake

You may have heard about research that showed having one serving of alcohol (for example, a glass of red wine) each day improves your health by reducing your risk of heart disease. While that may be true, many studies have also shown that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer. In general, the more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk of developing breast cancer. If you drink alcohol, have less than one drink a day. Getting enough folic acid may lower the risk linked to drinking alcohol. Folic acid can be found in multivitamins, oranges, orange juice, green vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals.

4. Limit postmenopausal hormones

IMG_2507.JPG For each year that combined estrogen plus progestin hormones are taken, the risk of breast cancer goes up. Once they are stopped, this increased risk returns to that of a woman who has never used hormones in about five to ten years. Menopausal hormones also increase the risk of other health conditions. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.

5. Breastfeed, if you can


Breastfeeding protects against breast cancer, especially in premenopausal women.

Breast cancer never sleeps and neither will the fight. So, get your pink on for the rest of the year–don’t leave the fight against breast cancer behind in October. Be aware! Be vigilant! Remember it is never too late to start!

1. Know your risk.
2. Get screened.
3. Know what is normal for you.
4. Make healthy lifestyle choices.

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