You can take steps to minimize your risk of breast cancer
October is the month of pink ribbons—it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, which is the yearly campaign to increase awareness of this disease. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer in women, after skin cancers. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.
Early detection is one of the major keys to fighting breast cancer. Thanks to increased awareness and early detection efforts, death rates from breast cancer have begun to decrease in women older than 50. Recommendations for mammograms vary depending on your age and risk factors. It’s important to talk to your family physician and your OB/GYN doctor about the best course of screening for you.
Minimizing Risk Factors
Is there anything you can do to prevent breast cancer? While there’s no guaranteed prevention, there are ways you can reduce your risk factors. Risk factors for breast cancer include some things that you can’t control—like genetics. But there is also some research that suggests there are some choices you can make that will help minimize your risk of breast cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, these behaviors can help minimize your risk:
- Cut back on alcohol. Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of developing breast cancer. Try to drink less than one drink per day.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking is a habit that can wreak havoc on many aspects of your life, including your risk of breast cancer. If you’re already a smoker, make efforts to quit. Talk to your doctor about quitting, or try the American Lung Association’s stop-smoking resources.
- Stay at a healthy weight. Obesity and being overweight take a toll on your health and can increase your risk of breast cancer. For help in losing weight, talk to your doctor about a safe way to incorporate exercise and healthy food choices into your lifestyle. Try the American Heart Association’s Master the Scale plan to get to a healthy weight for you.
- Stay active physically. Sedentary lifestyles can lead to weight gain and increase your risk of developing breast cancer. The current recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services is at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise, and also strength training twice a week. Whether it’s joining a gym or working out on your own, you will feel great and look great once you incorporate regular workouts into your life.
- Breast-feed. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is some evidence that breastfeeding can help play a role in breast cancer prevention. This is something expectant mothers and new mothers can consider when making the decision whether or not to breastfeed.
- Limit hormone therapy. Some women take hormone therapy for menopause symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, taking combination hormone therapy for more than 3-5 years can increase your risk of breast cancer. Instead, ask your doctor about non-hormonal therapies and other options.
For additional information about breast cancer risks and signs and symptoms, try these resources:
This article was provided by the Salter School. Our school wants to help raise awareness of breast cancer among our students and the general public. We hope this information has helped to shed some light on the lifestyle choices you can make to help minimize your risk. Thanks for being part of this important effort!