If you are at risk for breast cancer, there are steps you can take to lower it. These include understanding your risk, getting regular screenings and making lifestyle modifications.
Breast cancer is most prevalent in women over 50, though it can occur at any age. Your age, gender and family history all increase your likelihood of developing it.
1. Know Your Risk Factors
Being aware of your risk factors for breast cancer can help you make informed decisions about how to reduce that risk. This may include speaking with your doctor about regular screenings.
Women who receive screening for breast cancer have an improved chance of being diagnosed early and may require less treatment than other women with similar risks. Your doctor will advise when and how often you should be screened based on your personal and family history.
Age: As we get older, the likelihood of developing breast cancer increases. Most individuals diagnosed with this disorder are over 50 years old.
Family History: Having a first-degree relative, such as your mother or sister who has had breast cancer can increase your risk for developing it. Furthermore, having multiple family members on either side with breast or ovarian cancer also puts you at greater risk.
Genetic Predisposition: Gene mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Furthermore, having a close relative with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (HBOCS) may put you at greater risk for this cancer.
Race and Ethnicity: Patients from certain racial or ethnic backgrounds, such as black or Asian Americans, have an increased likelihood of developing breast cancer due to genetic predisposition or other factors.
Lifestyle: Eating a nutritious diet, abstaining from smoking tobacco products and engaging in regular physical activity are all effective ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer. These strategies are easy to implement and can have positive effects on your wellbeing.
Maintaining good health is essential for overall wellbeing, and especially so when it comes to your breasts. Doing so can help avoid cancer as well as other degenerative illnesses in the body such as heart disease.
2. Get Regular Mammograms
In order to reduce your risk of breast cancer, it’s essential to get regular screenings. Mammograms are the most reliable way to detect breast cancer in its early stages when it can be most effectively treated.
Mammograms are an invaluable tool in the detection of breast cancer by taking x-rays of the tissue. They’re a fast, low-dose, painless test that can detect tumors and abnormalities too small or deep for feeling.
They can also detect ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), an abnormal growth on the lining of a breast duct that could progress to cancer for some women.
Your doctor will determine whether you need mammograms and how often, depending on your age, medical history and other factors. They can be performed every other year for eligible women or more frequently depending on individual risk factors.
Screening mammograms are an integral part of most breast cancer screening programs, and when detected early and treated promptly, can reduce your risk of death by 30% or more.
Mammograms have the potential for being highly accurate, but there can also be risks involved. One common risk is false positive test results – cancers detected during a mammogram but not present. These cancers can take years to develop and may necessitate additional tests or even require biopsy of the suspicious area of the breast.
Another potential harm comes from overdiagnosis, when doctors detect cancers that would not otherwise present with symptoms but may disappear on their own. This is especially common with some types of breast cancers that are dense and difficult to spot on mammograms.
3. Don’t Smoke Tobacco
Smoking is one of the greatest factors that can increase your risk for breast cancer. It also contributes to other health problems, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Tobacco is made from nicotine that’s dried and fermented before rolling into cigarettes or other forms. When you smoke, the chemicals present in tobacco enter your lungs and bloodstream. Cigarette smoke has been known to raise blood pressure, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and make your heart work harder.
Nicotine is addictive, meaning you can become dependent on it and find it difficult to stop. It works similarly to other drugs by flooding your brain’s reward circuits with dopamine and providing a mild adrenaline rush.
If you are a smoker, speak to your doctor about quitting. They may provide assistance such as medications or counseling.
Additionally, it is highly recommended that you cease smoking during pregnancy in order to protect yourself and your unborn child. Smoking reduces oxygen to the uterus, increasing the likelihood of an ectopic pregnancy – a potentially life-threatening reproductive issue – as well as increasing your likelihood of having a low birth weight baby.
Children whose parents smoke tend to experience more colds and other respiratory illnesses. Smoking also makes it harder for them to get enough sleep, which may hinder their school performance and cause poorer concentration.
Smoking is a risk factor for various diseases, such as lung disease, mouth and throat cancer, voice box cancer, pancreatic cancer and bladder cancer. Furthermore, smoking can damage your body by increasing the likelihood of heart attacks or strokes.
Smoking has no safe level, so it’s best to stop altogether. If you know someone who smokes, try your best to help them break the habit by explaining how dangerous it can be and offering support and resources.
4. Get Regular Physical Activity
Regular physical activity has been known to reduce your risk of breast cancer by 12-21% and help manage other health conditions. Not only that, but it can improve heart health as well as lower diabetes and metabolic syndrome–conditions which may lead to cancer development.
Increase your daily physical activity by making small modifications to your routine. For instance, instead of driving yourself to work each morning, walk or take the bus a short distance or ride your bike to and from work.
Another way to increase your physical activity is by increasing outdoor time, whether that means mowing lawns or taking walks in the park. Generally, aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and strength training exercises at least two times per week.
When starting a healthy level of exercise, start slowly and work up to your goal. Once you feel comfortable with the amount of activity you are doing, mix up your routine so that different muscle groups get worked in each workout.
It’s essential to remember that exercise should become part of your lifestyle, not just an occasional event. Make sure you prioritize taking care of yourself at all times and remember how beneficial physical activity can be as a stress reliever.
Exercise that offers both aerobic (endurance) and muscle-strengthening benefits, including strength training. Examples of such activities include dancing, swimming, yoga, jogging or hiking. Exercising regularly has numerous benefits for your overall wellbeing – from improved heart and lung function to strengthened digestion and muscles.
5. Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating healthily can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower the risk of certain types of cancer. Not only that, but it may also give you energy boosts and lift your spirits.
Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes is an effective way to get your daily serving of vitamins and minerals. These foods are packed with antioxidants which can combat free radicals that might promote cancer cell growth.
Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks and replace them with water, lower-fat milk or 100% fruit juice instead. Keep a reusable water bottle in your purse or car so that you always have access to clean drinking water.
A balanced diet can improve your health and lower the risk of many serious illnesses, such as breast cancer. A nutritious diet should contain whole grains, lean meats, poultry, fish, fruit & vegetables, dairy products and fats from unsaturated sources.
You can improve your health by making wise food decisions, such as substituting unhealthy fats with healthier ones and cutting back on foods high in calories. Your doctor or registered dietitian can assist you in creating a tailored-diet plan tailored specifically for you.
Establishing healthy eating habits is easier than you might think. The first step to taking control of your eating is eating smaller meals throughout the day. This encourages you to eat more nutritious food and eliminates the need for snacks – often empty calories that could lead to overeating in the future.
Eating healthily can reduce your risk for cancer and other chronic (long-term) diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Furthermore, it helps you maintain a healthy weight and makes you more physically active – both of which are key elements in decreasing breast cancer risks.