Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in American women and one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in women, second only to lung cancer. Research shows that 13% of all women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Although, no one knows the exact causes of breast cancer, but by educating yourself and taking control of some lifestyle factors, you can lower your risk of developing breast cancer.
Here are five simple things you can take to reduce your risk of breast cancer:
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating well is also important to improve your health and reduce your cancer risk. Take a good hard look at what you typically eat each day and incorporate the following suggestions to build a healthy diet plan for yourself:
– Add more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet. These foods are rich in antioxidants which help to prevent cell damage associated with cancer development.
– Processed and red meats: Cutting back on processed meats like hot dogs, bologna, and luncheon meat, and red meats like beef, pork and lamb may help reduce the risk of colon and prostate cancers. These foods are also high in saturated fat, so eating less of them and eating them less often will also help you lower your risk of heart disease.
– Consider avoiding alcohol. Moderate drinking can help protect against heart disease. Unfortunately, studies also show that regular and modest amounts of alcohol can raise your estrogen levels. Even one drink a day can expose breast tissue to higher hormone levels. Since some breast tumors are estrogen-sensitive, alcohol can increase the risk that the cells in that tissue will become cancerous. Limit your intake to lower your risk
2. Maintain your body weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is important to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Research shows that being overweight or obese increases your risk for breast cancer. But don’t try to be size zero. Being very thin prior to the menopause or under 50 is also linked to increased breast-cancer risk. It makes your breasts more dense – and dense breasts have a fourfold higher breast-cancer risk. It makes sense to maintain a healthy weight for your height.
3. Regular exercise
Some recent studies have found a small relationship between moderate exercise and decreased risk of breast cancer. Exercising regularly can help combat obesity as well which further lowers cancer risk. Aerobic exercises, such as swimming, brisk walking, jogging, and playing tennis are best bets as they are easy and enjoyable. Try to get 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week.
4. Stop smoking
Tobacco smoke carries carcinogens, which can accumulate in fluid around the breasts. Active smoking can greatly raise your risk of breast and lung cancers, and passive smoking may also raise your risk. Get help to kick the habit and improve your long-term health. The evidence is piling up for a link between smoking and breast cancer. It”��s another good reason to stop smoking
5. Breastfeed if you can
New mother should breast-feed exclusively for up to six months – the evidence is convincing that mothers who brast-feed reducerisk of both breast and ovarian cancer by about 7 per cent.
6. Examine yourself
Regular screening tests for breast cancer, such as an annual mammogram and a breast exam during your annual checkup, allow you and your doctor to ensure that your breasts are as healthy as they can be. Screening also increases the likelihood that your doctor will find breast cancer early, when it is most treatable. Have an annual mammogram starting at age 40, as long as your general health is good. Do your breast self-exam on a regular basis.
7. Get plenty of sleep in a dark room
This is one of the best ways to manage stress! Sleep gives the body time to rest, repair and heal. Sleeping in a dark room encourages the production of the hormone melatonin, which reduces the risk of breast cancer. Plenty of sleep might be 7 hours for some women and 9 hours for others.
8. Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is sometimes prescribed to women as a means of alleviating discomfort associated with menopause. Research indicates that women who have received HRT for five years or more may be at a heightened risk for breast cancer. However, the heightened risk seems to occur primarily in women using combined (estrogen and progesterone mixture) HRT, as opposed to estrogen-only HRT. However, estrogen-only HRT increases risk of uterine cancer. The elevated breast cancer risk appears to be reversible in that women who discontinued HRT for five or more years show no more increased risk for breast cancer than women who never used it in the first place. Talk to your doctor about your risks and benefits with regard to HRT.
9. Avoid chemicals and harmful substances in our environment
A clinical review in the February 2004 issue of the British Medical Journal suggests that up to 75 percent of all cases of cancer are caused by environmental and lifestyle factors. For example, substances found in some plastics, certain cosmetics and personal care products, pesticides (such as DDE), and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) may contain harmful substances.
10. Get enough vitamin D
There are many studies that demonstrate women with higher levels of vitamin D have significantly lower rates of breast cancer. People can get vitamin D through sunlight and through their diets. Some people get vitamin D by taking vitamins. Good food sources include milk, eggs, tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, and in some breakfast cereals.