Breast cancer is a scary disease, and one that affects most of us somehow. It’s common enough that we know someone in our family or circle of friends who is or will soon be fighting it. It’s hardly surprising that most women are very concerned about breast cancer.
The great news is that we know so much more about breast cancer than we did in the past. Treatments are getting far more effective, and prevention is becoming more and more of the focus. Here are the best breast cancer prevention tips to keep in mind this October as we make our way through Worldwide Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Keep it down
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for everyone, but for women it has special significance because of the connection between breast cancer and obesity. Being overweight increases your risk of breast cancer by 30 to 60 percent.
Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, sure. But it is also independently linked to a lower risk of breast cancer, not to mention other forms of cancer. In fact, exercising regularly may lower your risk of breast cancer by up to 25 percent.
Eat your veggies
Your mom was right! A healthy diet, particularly one with lots of vegetables and fruits, can help reduce your risk of breast cancer. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are especially helpful in fighting cancer.
Cut down on alcohol
Consume alcohol at moderate levels, if at all. Moderate levels means one drink per day, or less. If you drink more than that, cut back. Women who consume three drinks per week have a 15 percent higher risk of breast cancer compared to women who don’t drink at all, and that risk goes up by 10 percent for each daily drink you add.
Smoking increases your risk of breast cancer, and at least a dozen other varieties of cancer, too. There’s no excuse! Cut out your tobacco habit.
Breastfeed if you can
Women who breastfeed for one year total (or longer) have a reduced risk of breast cancer. The amount of benefit you get from breastfeeding grows as the total number of years you breastfeed goes up, so if breastfeeding is an option for you, explore it.
Avoid unnecessary hormones
Birth control pills over the long haul have some risks, and increased chances of breast cancer is one of them. However, this risk goes away once you stop the pill. Additionally, taking the pill lowers your risk for other cancers such as colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer, so consult with your doctor to make an informed decision.
Post-menopausal hormones should not be a long-term health solution. If you need to take these kinds of hormones, make sure you take them for the shortest possible period of time.
Know your history
If breast cancer runs in your family, you may have a much higher risk. Sometimes even women who have other forms of cancer in their families like ovarian cancer or prostate cancer may be at increased risk for breast cancer. Make sure you know your family history, and consult with your doctor about it. A genetic counselor is also a great choice to help you understand what your family history means in terms of your risk for breast cancer.
This October, do more for yourself during Breast Cancer Awareness Month beyond wearing pink. Start making these best breast cancer prevention tips part of your life for good. Too many people love you and are counting on you for you to ignore the risks, so take these important steps now.