Breast cancer is becoming increasingly prevalent, so many of us have been touched by this disease, but there are ways to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer. There is a lot of research being conducted in cancer prevention, and while recent medical breakthroughs definitely give us some peace of mind, studies suggest that a little tweaking of your lifestyle choices could well help to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer.
1. Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
With all the information we have on the links between smoking and cancer in general, it may seem like I’m stating the obvious, but you should avoid smoking; this one small lifestyle choice is one of the most important ways to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer. Long-term smoking could be especially harmful. You should also limit alcohol consumption. Our mums are always nagging us about taking our vitamins; well, it turns out we should be listening to them – a multivitamin that includes folic acid could contribute towards reducing your risk of getting breast cancer.
2. Healthy Diet
Where diet choices are concerned, you should aim to limit the amount of processed and refined foods in your diet. Fresh is definitely best! The many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean unprocessed meats will fortify your body’s resistance to cancer. Experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research believe that a third of all cancers can be prevented by improvements to lifestyle, including good nutrition and fitness, weight management and regular exercise. Which leads us to point 3….
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
So we know it’s important to stay physically active, and to maintain a reasonable level of fitness. If you’re following a healthy and balanced diet, your weight should be in check anyway, but regular exercise is crucial to staying in a healthy weight range. Research shows that it is especially important to avoid weight gain after menopause. As your risk of obesity increases, so does your risk of cancer, so a healthy weight is a key factor in breast cancer prevention.
4. Avoid X-Rays and Radiation
There is no such thing as safe exposure to radiation. If you find that you need to undergo medical tests involving x-rays and CT scans, it’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor – there may be alternative means for diagnosis, such as ultrasounds or MRI, which don’t expose you to radiation.
If you have the option of having your first child before the age of 30 to 35, you reduce your risk of getting breast cancer. Later pregnancies still offer some protection, but not as much. On the subject of pregnancy, there has been speculation that certain types of the contraceptive pill could pose a breast cancer risk. Studies are still being conducted, so as with all medication, your doctor will be able to help you make the right decision for your situation.
Breastfeeding has many benefits, for both mother and child, and breast cancer prevention is one very important benefit. If you are able to breastfeed your baby, you decrease your breast cancer risk, especially if you’re nursing for a longer period. Basically the longer you breastfeed, the greater your protection. Breastfeeding may also reduce a female baby’s risk of developing breast cancer at a later age.
During menopause, our hormones go through an intense balancing act, and HRT (hormone replacement therapy) has often been used to help regulate hormonal fluctuation, and control progesterone and estrogen levels. Studies over the last few years have pointed towards a correlation between HRT and breast cancer. If you must use HRT, try to use it for shortest possible time. Talk to your doctor for advice and possible alternatives. And again, managing your weight during menopause is very important.
Breast cancer has affected so many women, and the lives of those they love. It’s comforting to know that you could make some simple, common-sense lifestyle choices that could contribute to decreasing your risk of breast cancer, with the bonus of a healthier you overall. Have you been affected by breast cancer? If you have, I hope you, and those you love, are recovering well. Could you see yourself making changes to include some of these tips to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer? Do you have any tips to share?