6 Lifestyle Tips to Decrease Your Risk of Breast Cancer
When it comes to breast cancer, all of us would like to be able to decrease our risks as much as possible. As you saw in the last post, some of these risks we can’t change and just need to be aware of. But this week, we will tell you some of the risk factors that you can actually change by modifying your lifestyle or making different decisions.
No. 1 and 2 tips: Maintain a healthy body weight and exercise regularly
These factors are often interrelated but they each have been shown to increase your risk of breast cancer. Being obese or overweight – or having a BMI over 25 – especially after menopause increases your risk of developing breast cancer. This risk is particularly greater if your fat is distributed around you waist area. This is suspected to be due to the fact that the extra fat accumulated can produce estrogen therefore affecting breast cell-growth and multiplication.
Independently to one’s weight but often related to it is exercise or lack thereof. Not getting out and moving enough can not only influence your weight but it is also thought that exercising can modify the hormone releases and responses in your body and decrease your risk of breast cancer. Exercising doesn’t mean you have to sweat it out for hours at the gym but 20mins of moderate exercise 3 times a week can not only decrease you risk of breast cancer but also contribute to decreasing other ones such as cardiovascular diseases.
No. 3 and 4: Kicking bad habits and moderating your alcohol intake
Smoking has been known to be bad for our health for a very long time. It’s been well documented that it increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease but did you know that it is also linked to an increased risk of breast cancer? This relationship is particularly true for younger premenopausal women who are smoking.
- Did you also know that alcohol is also a risk factor for breast cancer? It is thought that alcohol can both cause DNA damage as well as increase the levels of estrogen in your body, both of which can increase your risk of breast cancer. Three alcoholic consumptions a week can increase your risk by 15% compared to a woman who does not drink and it can go up by 10% for each additional drink.
- No. 5: Discuss your hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with your doctor
- We understand that the symptoms at menopause can wreck havoc on one’s lifestyle quality and these can be controlled with HRT. However, studies have proven that a woman who has been on HRT for more than 5-10 years after menopause has an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Each woman is different but you should be aware of this risk and discuss possible different alternatives for controlling your symptoms with your physician if that is your desire.
No. 6: Hormonal birth control
A recent study showed that hormonal birth control can increase very very slightly the risk of breast cancer in women using them. This is something women should be aware of and be able to discuss the possible alternatives with their physicians.
As you can see, some of these are easier to change than others. Some are clearly beneficial and other would have some downside to them. In our experience, taking small steps everyday but being consistent is key to succeeding in making changes to better our health and benefit our lives.