With one in eight women in the U.S. being diagnosed, reducing your risk of breast cancer is now on more womens’ minds. Being the daughter of a breast cancer victim put me at a higher risk for getting the cancer myself. In fact I got my diagnosis in 2014. Now, after more than a year of treatment I’m very interested in preventing recurrence.
Reducing Your Risk Of Breast Cancer
We can’t control our family history but there are steps we can take to lower our risk. According to Mayo Clinic, and other world renown cancer centers, lifestyle changes can have a great impact on our cancer risk. While there are no guarantees, making a few smart changes can lower your risk significantly. Even women already considered at high risk for breast cancer can take steps to lower their risk.
These steps include:
- Quit smoking
- Limit alcohol
- Control weight
- Breast feed
- Limit pollution & radiation exposure
- Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy
Every state has some type of tobacco cessation program for smokers who are low income or on Medicaid. American Lung Association has lots of info on individual state’s policies and programs at lungsusa.org. Explore the American Lung Association to find even more help to stop smoking. There is also a lot of help at smokefree.gov.
First we hear drinking certain alcoholic drinks can be beneficial to our health. Next we hear we should avoid alcohol. So which is it? Mayo Clinic says both are true. The key is to drink in moderation. Check out their informative page here.
According to American Cancer Society excess body fat leads to higher levels of estrogen which can lead to breast cancer in some women. The links are explained in more detail here.
Getting more exercise lowers risk for breast cancer by keeping weight under control and in other important ways. Physical activity lowers inflamation, hormone, and stress levels. All of which can lower a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Learn more here.
BreastCancer.org lists three important links between breast feeding and lowered risk of breast cancer. One link is the lowered estrogen level during lactation. Learn more here.
Limit Pollution & Radiation Exposure
Radiation exposure is measured in millisieverts (mSv). The average person in the U.S. can expect to receive no more than 3 mSv of exposure per year from naturally occurring background radiation. Being exposed to more than 20 mSv is considered high. According to the CDC most of our exposure comes from medical imaging. We can limit exposure to radiation by; asking our physician if magnetic resonance imaging will give similar results; check to see if a similar image was taken recently that could be used for in the current treatment.
Limit Dose and Duration of Hormone Therapy
According to National Cancer Institute research has shown that postmenopausal women takeing a combination of estrogen and progestin are more likely to develop breast cancer. In studies the cancers in these women were larger and more likely to have spread to the lymph nodes.