During the month of October, the nation comes together to educate and spread awareness about breast cancer. It’s a time to promote the importance of screenings, early detection, prevention and research. Statistics show one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, making it one of the most common cancers among women. While there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, there are some lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is an important factor in your overall health, and can lower your risk of developing breast cancer. If you’re currently at a healthy weight, take steps to maintain that weight and stay healthy. If you need to lose weight, make healthy choices to do so by reducing calories and increasing exercise.
Women who consume two or three alcoholic beverages per day are twenty percent more likely to develop breast cancer. The more alcohol you drink, the higher the risk. If you do choose to drink alcohol, the general recommendation is to not exceed one drink per day.
Smokers are more likely to develop heart disease, lung cancer, stroke and breast cancer. Quitting smoking isn’t easy – consult your physician and create a plan to stop smoking for good. It’s never too late to improve your health!
Modify Your Diet
Not eating enough fruits and vegetables and including large amounts of red meat in your diet have been associated with a higher risk of developing breast cancer. To lower this risk, it is recommended to eat around two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables a day. It is also recommended to eat red meat in moderation and replace it with leaner sources of protein.
Since obesity raises the risk of developing breast cancer, it is important to stay active and keep extra weight off. Research shows that physical activity reduces breast cancer by at least ten percent. Even moderate exercise – such as walking thirty minutes a day, five days a week – can keep you healthy and reduce your chances.
Breastfeed Your Children
Studies show that breastfeeding your children, especially for longer than one year, may be a factor in breast cancer prevention. Women who breastfeed experience hormonal changes which reduces the lifetime exposure to hormones such as estrogen, which is linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Get Regular Screenings
It’s important to remember regular medical screenings are the most effective way to detect various forms of cancer early in their development. Early detection is the best form of protection. In early stages, treatment is likely to be most effective and recovery a more probable outcome.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and all year long, it is important to know your risks. If it’s been over 12 months since your last mammogram, now is the time to schedule. Mammograms save lives, and one of them may be yours.