7 Ways to Prevent the Risk of Breast Cancer
Like all health risks, disease prevention begins with healthy habits – such as eating healthy and staying away from a toxic lifestyle. Know what you can do to lower your breast cancer risk. While some risk factors remain constant such as your family history and aging, for instance, there are still some risk factors that you can manage. Here are 7 ways to help protect your breast health:
1. Watch your weight.
Being overweight increases the risk of breast cancer. This is mainly true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after the menopausal stage. What happens after menopause is that most of your estrogen comes from fat tissue and having more fat tissues strengthens the risk of getting breast cancer by raising estrogen levels. Additionally, women on the heavy side tend to have increased levels of insulin, another hormone. Excessive insulin levels have also been linked to some cancers, including breast cancer.
2. Exercise regularly.
Many studies have found that exercise is a breast-healthy habit. There is a correlation between exercising regularly at a moderate to intense level for 4 to 7 hours per week and a decreased risk of breast cancer. The variance in risk between the most active and the least active women was seen to be around 25%. Walking for an accumulated duration of 10 hours a week proved to have helped lessen the risk.
3. Reduce the time you spend seated.
Significant evidence shows that the longer time you spend sitting down, no matter how much exercise you get when you aren’t sitting, the more susceptible you are to cancer, particularly for women. According to a study by the American Cancer Society, women who typically spend around 6 hours or more a day beyond your working hours had a 10% higher risk for invasive breast cancer compared with women who sat less than 3 hours a day.
Research suggests that breastfeeding for six months and more considerably help in breast cancer risk reduction. The longer you breastfeed, the greater its protective effect on you and your little one. According to Sally Scroggs, a dietitian and health education manager in MD Anderson’s Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center, “breastfeeding beyond six months is not only beneficial for your child’s health, but the longer you do it, the more protection you receive against breast and ovarian cancers.”
5. Limit alcohol intake.
Many studies have concluded that high alcohol intake increases a woman's chances of getting two to five alcoholic drinks daily have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who drink once a day or not at all. Studies have found evidence that links even lower levels of drinking alcohol to an increase in breast cancer risk. Even as few as three to six glasses of alcohol in a week may increase one’s chance in getting breast cancer.
6. Quit smoking.
Sufficient evidence suggests a direct relationship between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women. In addition, not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Smoking is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer in younger, premenopausal women. There may be a link between very heavy second-hand smoke exposure and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women.
7. Avoid or limit hormone replacement therapy.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was used more often in the past to manage the difficult symptoms of menopause. Researchers have proven that post-menopausal women who take a combination of estrogen and progestin have a higher probability of getting breast cancer. Recent users of HRT have a higher risk of getting breast cancer. Its risk appears to return to normal within 5 years after stopping the combination of hormones.
Prevention is always better than cure. Understand what you can do to reduce your breast cancer risk and take the necessary precautions. It’s best to talk to your doctor and make sure to get regular breast examination.