While certain risk factors are out of your control, you can make some choices that could potentially reduce your breast cancer risk.
Eating a nutritious diet, getting regular exercise and not smoking are known to lower the risk of certain types of cancer. Furthermore, these choices can improve overall wellbeing and help manage stress better.
1. Exercise regularly
Exercise regularly can reduce your risk for breast cancer and promote overall wellness. It helps you maintain a healthy weight, build bone density, strengthen heart and blood vessels, as well as lift your spirits.
Exercising can also lower your risk for other health conditions, such as uterine and lung cancer. A recent study discovered that women who were active before and during treatment experienced better breast cancer survival rates than inactive individuals.
Physical activity is a vital factor in reducing your risk of breast cancer, regardless of age or other risks. It also keeps you healthy and helps combat other health issues like obesity and type 2 diabetes.
2. Eat a healthy diet
Maintaining a nutritious diet is essential for overall well-being and may help lower the risk of breast cancer. To get all the essential nutrients from food, aim to incorporate plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and protein into your meals.
Fruits such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries contain various antioxidants and nutrients which may help prevent and slow cancer cell growth. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage also possess potent anticancer effects.
Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can also lower your risk of breast cancer. Fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are excellent sources of this vital nutrient.
3. Avoid smoking
Smoking has long been known to increase your risk for various cancers, such as breast cancer and lung cancer, plus diseases affecting the heart, throat, voice box, pancreas, bladder and cervix.
Women with a family history of breast cancer should be especially concerned. A recent study suggests that smoking could possibly increase their chance of developing the disease in these individuals.
Researchers examined 102,927 participants in the Breast Cancer Now Generations Study and determined that smoking was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer – particularly among women who began smoking before age 17. This association was especially strong among those who began smoking before they turned 17 years old.
4. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
Women who drink frequently may want to reduce their consumption. Alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer and this risk increases with increased alcohol consumption.
Alcoholism has also been linked to other health issues, such as heart disease. How much harm alcohol causes depends on how much you consume, your drinking pattern, age and other factors.
Studies have consistently demonstrated that even moderate drinking of alcohol increases your risk for developing breast cancer, as it increases estrogen levels in the body – an essential hormone in breast tissue growth and development.
5. Avoid drinking alcohol in moderation
Drinking alcohol is a widely-practiced behavior that has been linked to an increased risk of cancer. But, cutting back on alcohol consumption may help reduce your likelihood of developing breast cancer or other types of cancer as well.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, moderate drinking is defined as up to two drinks per day for men and one for women – this could include a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5-ounce shot of liquor.
Studies have demonstrated that moderate drinking after a diagnosis of breast cancer does not increase the risk of recurrence or death from the disease, but it’s still important to avoid excessive drinking and keep alcohol intake low. Doing so will reduce your chances of experiencing another recurrence while improving quality of life overall.
6. Avoid taking hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives after menopause
Hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives taken after menopause may increase the risk of breast cancer. Women who use estrogen-containing oral contraceptives or combination birth control pills should discontinue use before menopause and never use them if they have a history of heart disease, stroke, blood clots, or cancer.
For decades, many women have turned to hormone therapy to relieve the symptoms of menopause – such as hot flashes and night sweats. These treatments, also referred to as menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), may offer both short and long-term advantages; they may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and diabetes.
7. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages
Caffeinated drinks may help you stay awake, but it’s important to limit their consumption. Doing so could cause negative side effects like headaches, irritability and feeling tired all day long.
Before cutting back on caffeine-containing drinks in your diet, be sure to consult with your doctor first.
Studies have demonstrated that moderate consumption of coffee and tea does not increase the risk of breast cancer. Nevertheless, some doctors advise pregnant or nursing women to limit their caffeine consumption to 200 mg daily (two 8-ounce cups of home-brewed coffee per day).
8. Avoid smoking in moderation
Smoking has been linked to several cancers, such as lung, larynx, mouth and throat; voice box; pancreas; bladder; cervix; kidney; plus it can lead to heart disease, stroke and other health complications.
Women who smoke more than 10 cigarettes per day or who started earlier in life are at increased risk for breast cancer, as are current smokers and former smokers alike. It is especially high for those who have been smoking for an extended period and have many pack years under their belt.
Recent research revealed that most excessive drinkers are not alcoholics, but instead individuals who consume more alcohol than the recommended limit (four drinks per week for women and 15 for men). These individuals had an increased risk of developing various diseases such as breast cancer.
9. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
Women, alcohol has been known to increase your risk for breast cancer. It raises estrogen levels within the body which may encourage tumor growth.
Research has also linked alcohol consumption with an increased risk of colon and rectal cancers.
Though studies on this connection are few, it could be due to alcohol’s effect on folate absorption, estrogen production and other hormones as well as its capacity for DNA damage in cells.
According to the American Cancer Society, women should limit their alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day. This is because female bodies contain less water than males do, meaning even though they consume the same amount of booze, their blood-alcohol concentration will be higher due to differences in body size.
10. Avoid smoking in moderation
Smoking tobacco is one of the leading preventable causes of cancers. Cigarette smoke contains toxins which may lead to lung and mouth cancers as well as other respiratory problems.
Smoking increases your risk of developing breast cancer, increases your likelihood of dying from it after diagnosis, and makes it more likely that it will return in the future.
Do not ignore your health if you are a light smoker or social smoker. Recent research has demonstrated that even smoking a few cigarettes per day can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke and other issues.