Almost 41,000 women die from breast cancer annually, and over 250,000 cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed in women each year. Women have a one in eight chance of developing breast cancer at some point during their life. While it’s impossible to predict exactly who will be affected by this terrible disease, lifestyle and genetics both play a role in this condition. Knowing the risk and taking appropriate action to limit the risk can help stop breast cancer before it starts.
Control your weight
Obesity is a big risk factor for many different types of cancer, and breast cancer is no exception. What’s surprising about the link between breast cancer and obesity is that the risk doesn’t become significant until after menopause. As BMI increases in post-menopausal women, so does their risk for breast cancer. In addition, women who are categorized as obese (which means that they weigh 20 percent more than they ideally should) have between a 20% and 40% increase in risk of developing breast cancer.
This means that women who want to reduce their risk of breast cancer must work with their doctor to control their weight. There are many things that women can do to keep their weight down. Limiting caloric intake and getting exercise helps. It also helps to work with a life coach or personal trainer.
It’s well known that the type of diet a person eats can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. You can make your diet more healthy by eating a range of colorful vegetables and fruits, eating organic whenever possible and drinking low-fat milk and eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties. Soy may provide benefits in low doses but may be a risk factor for breast cancer in higher doses, so women must watch their intake. A diet high in leafy greens can also reduce chances of breast cancer. In fact, vegetarians are at half the risk of cancer when compared to people who eat meat.
In some ways, reducing risk of breast cancer also comes down to avoiding the right foods. For example, alcohol, granular sugar and red meat can all increase the risk of getting this type of cancer.
Be physically active
Staying physically active is a good way to reduce the chances of many different types of cancer, including breast cancer. There are many different ways that women can stay active, including running, swimming, biking and fast walking. In fact, there are many ways that women can stay active without taking out too much time from their daily life. Walking or biking to work, going for a walk on lunch breaks and even just cleaning the house vigorously are good ways to get in physical activity.
People who find it difficult to hold themselves accountable to an exercise routine may be able to increase their chances of success by pairing with another person. Often people are more likely to exercise when someone else is encouraging them and holding them to a pre-set schedule.
Not all women have the opportunity to breast feed, but those who have a child can reduce their risk of breast cancer by breast feeding their baby for one year. Conveniently, the one year of breast feeding doesn’t even have to happen all at once. For women who have multiple children, the risk of breast cancer is reduced if the combination of all the months adds up to at least one year.
Know your risk, act accordingly
Some women, because of their genetics, have an increased risk of breast cancer. Women who recognize their increased risk can sometimes take medications or even have their breasts or ovaries removed. Surgery in particular can be an extreme action to take, so women must work carefully with their doctor before deciding to take this kind of action.
Perform self examinations and get mammograms regularly
Self examination and mammograms help save lives. Talk to your doctor to find out how to do a self examination. The CDC states that women with normal breast tissue should start getting biennial mammograms starting at age 50, and you should discuss that with your doctor as well. October is breast cancer awareness month. For more information about how you can avoid breast cancer, book your appointment with Sherry Neyman MD.