Breast Cancer Prevention
What can you do to lower your risk?
Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among American women. Did you know that the chance of developing invasive breast cancer at some time in a woman’s life is a little less than 1in 8 (12%)? Knowing this, women nationwide have been taking steps to help lower their risk.
Below are a few steps a woman might take hoping to lower her risk of breast cancer. Only three of these have been shown to help reduce a woman’s risk. Do you know which three?
- Eating soy foods
- Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Staying fit
- Taking Vitamin D
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Limit alcohol
Did you select 3 – regular exercise, 5 – maintaining a healthy weight and 6- limiting alcohol? If you did, congrats! A number of studies show that regular exercise, avoiding excess weight gain and limiting alcohol can help lower your risk for developing breast cancer. While eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is a healthy decision, the direct benefit of adding fruits and vegetables to your diet when it comes to breast cancer reduction is that they are low in calories and high in nutrients, helping you manage a healthy weight. More research is still needed to prove if vitamin D and soy foods are an effective method for reducing breast cancer risk. Let’s look at numbers 3, 5 and 6 more closely.
Get moving! Physically active women have a lower risk of breast cancer. Exercise can reduce body fat and body weight therefore decreasing estrogen levels in the blood. What is considered being active? Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense activity on most days of the week. This can include walking, running, swimming, tennis, bicycling, aerobics and/or dancing. Choose an activity you enjoy and get moving!
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Avoiding weight gain is the most important thing a woman can do to reduce her risk of developing breast cancer. After menopause a woman’s only source of estrogen comes from her fat cells. The more fat cells a woman has, the higher her level of circulating estrogen and in turn her risk for breast cancer. Maintain a healthy weight by balancing the calories you eat with the calories you burn through every day activity and exercise. Visit www.mypyramid.gov to learn how many calories your body needs every day.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), alcohol use is clearly linked to an increase risk of developing breast cancer. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. The ACS recommends that women limit their alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day.
Reference: The American Cancer Society – http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/DetailedGuide/breast-cancer-risk-factors