Breast Cancer remains the most common type of cancer among women, consisting of approximately 15% of all cancer deaths around the world. Around 2.1 million cases of the condition are recorded in a year. It is said that 1 in 11 women is at risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime.
So far, there is no conclusive data on what causes breast cancer, though there are risk factors that can lead to the development of the disease. This includes being overweight and having an unhealthy lifestyle. With that said, there are ways of minimizing these risks, thus lowering the possibility of breast cancer.
Practice a Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle is vital for preventing not only breast cancer but any type of disease. Specifically, being overweight can increase the risk of cancer. Specifically, an unhealthy weight can increase the possibility of developing the condition.
Maintaining a nutritious and balanced diet is the start of living a healthier life. Include various fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy products into your diet. Also, avoid consuming processed or red meat; eat meals low in fat and increase the portions of vegetables and fruits.
Engaging in physical activities, along with a healthy diet, helps you in maintaining a desirable weight. Women are recommended to accomplish at least 150 minutes of moderately intense exercises or 75 minutes of strenuous aerobic exercises every week. Also, incorporate strength training into your workout regimen at least twice a week. If you have a busy schedule, it is still possible to squeeze in at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
Avoid or Limit Yourself from Vices
To not distract yourself from working hard to live a healthy lifestyle, avoid engaging in unhealthy habits such as alcohol and cigarettes.
Excessive alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer. If you are going to drink, limit yourself to no more than one drink a day. This may include 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (hard liquor). Still, even low volumes of alcohol increase the risk of breast cancer. It is better to avoid alcohol.
Another unhealthy habit that puts you at risk of developing breast cancer is smoking. Besides breast cancer, smoking also puts you at risk of heart diseases, stroke, and 15 other types of cancer. It may also put the health of the people around you in danger. Excessive Exposure to second-hand smoke may factor in developing breast cancer, especially among menopausal women.
Keep your Hormones In-Check
Exposure to estrogen promotes the growth of breast cancer cells. So, it is important to make sure that you have healthy estrogen levels in your body.
Menopausal women usually undergo hormone therapy to lower the risk of diseases. However, three to five of the said therapy increases the risk of developing breast cancer. Ask your doctor for other non-hormone therapies or medications. If these alternative options do not work, the lowest dosage that works and consistently keep in touch with your doctor to monitor your health.
Estrogen levels are also high during pregnancy. That is why breastfeeding your newborn is recommended to lower the risk of cancer. Breastfeeding for at least six months prevents the development of the disease. Also, the hormonal changes during lactation slow down women’s menstrual period, which also reduces the body’s exposure to estrogen.
Take Preventive Measures
Women that are at high risk of breast cancer have the option to take preventive action even before being diagnosed with the condition.
Prescription drugs are available to lower the risk of developing breast cancer. Tamoxifen can be taken by women who haven’t gone through menopause. On the other hand, Raloxifene is used during the post-menopausal stage. Like any other medication, consult with your doctor first as these medicines may have side effects.
Rather than medication, some women choose to have a prophylactic mastectomy. This surgery removes one or both breasts to lower the risk of breast cancer by 90% or more.
Always Pay Close Observation
If you do not want to put your body through preventive medication or surgery, you need to pay close attention to any signs of breast cancer.
If you have a family history of the disease, you may opt to undergo genetic counseling and testing. Here, your family health history will be examined. Breast cancer may be hereditary through a gene mutation, such as the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. Your doctor will then explain possible types of testing to determine if you have the said genes. Testing through blood or saliva samples is a common method of genetic testing.
Frequent visits to the doctor also help you monitor your health. Undergo breast exams every 6 to 12 months. Also, start yearly mammograms at an earlier age, then add other screenings like breast MRI later on. These practices will help you detect breast cancer during its early stages.
Breast cancer chooses no one. Women who have already experienced menopause are at higher risk of the disease. However, there are more factors for developing cancer than age. Some can be controlled, such as weight and lifestyle choices, while some are uncontrollable like age and family history of cancer. Regardless, paying close observation and taking care of our body is our biggest defense against breast cancer. Diagnosis of the condition can be unpredictable, but there are things we can do to prevent it.