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Breast cancer is something that every woman these days worries about facing. Unfortunately, breast cancer seems to be incredibly common, leading many women to do what they can to try to prevent the disease from ever taking hold. While these methods aren’t necessarily scientific evidence, it’s good to stay active, fit, and in tune with how your body is reacting! Here are five things that you can do that might potentially lower your risk of breast cancer in the future.
- Eat healthy!
Most people are aware that healthy eating usually contributes to a healthier life. A study recently done by Harvard researchers found that women who ingest high levels of carotenoids have a 19% lower risk of getting diagnosed with breast cancer than those with lower levels. Carotenoids are found in leafy green, red peppers, carrots, and other vegetables. Ingesting more of these foods seems to be a good idea to reducing the risk for breast cancer, along with limiting red meats, processed foods, and of course alcohol. In fact, alcohol is very dangerous for those trying to avoid breast cancer; drinking more than one alcoholic beverage a day increases your chance of getting breast cancer to 1 1/2 times than that of someone who doesn’t drink. So be careful!
- Get yourself moving!
By being active, you may be able to prevent breast cancer in a few different ways. Firstly, staying active controls weight. A study done recently by the American Cancer Society showed that women who had gained 21-30 pounds since age 18 were 40% more lively to develop breast cancer than those who hadn’t gained more that 5 lbs. The reasoning for this? Simply put, estrogen. This hormone stimulates cell overgrowth and breast cancer. The more fat cells in the body, the higher the estrogen, increasing the risk for developing breast cancer. This doesn’t mean you have to go right to the gym for four hours after work every day. Briskly walking for about two and a half hours a week can decrease your risk of breast cancer by about 18%! The ACS recommends aiming for 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise a week, which ends up being just 30 minutes a day!
- Limit hormone therapy!
The Women’s Health Initiative recently released information stating that the long term use of combined estrogen and progestin can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer by 24%. Unless you’re at a significant risk, you can still talk to your doctor about using hormone therapy to manage things such as menopausal hot flashes. If you are taking hormone treatments, it’s a good idea to reevaluate with your doctor every 6 months or so to make sure everything is going alright!
- Consider breast feeding!
When a woman is breast feeding, her body skips the menstrual cycle. This means less estrogen is released in to the body. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who breast feed their children for the first six months have a 10% reduced risk of contracting breast cancer than those who don’t. Otis Brawley, MD, cheif medical officer for the American Cancer Society, says that there is “significant data that suggests that breast feeding lowers the risk”.
- Detect it early!
If breast cancer is caught early on, the prognosis is much better than if left alone, of course. For patients who detect it early, the five year survival rate is 99%, according to the American Cancer Society. Speak with your doctors about what plan is best for you and how you should be checking for breast cancer. For those over the age of 50, you should be getting regular mammograms and clinical breast exams every year. Be sure that you’re familiar with your breasts and that you note any changes in feeling, shape, or texture.