What Every Woman Should Know About Breast Cancer Prevention

With breast cancer awareness month coming up in October, we wanted to start spreading the word about ways you can help prevent breast cancer, one of the deadliest cancers for women. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

Fortunately, there are ways you can reduce your risk for developing this potentially deadly disease. While there are risk factors you can’t control, like family history or getting older, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to help lower your risk. Here are some you can start making today. 

Get to and maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight or obese, especially after menopause, can increase your risk for breast cancer. More fatty tissue means more estrogen and insulin, which are both hormones linked to breast cancer. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight can boost your overall health in addition to lowering your risk for breast cancer. 

Limit alcohol

You can limit, or eliminate, alcohol to reduce your risk, since even low levels of alcohol have been linked to an increased risk for breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends no more than one alcoholic drink a day for women and two for men. 

Don’t smoke

Smoking raises your risk for several cancers, including breast cancer, especially in premenopausal women. Additionally, some evidence links secondhand smoke to an increase in breast cancer for post-menopausal women. And, lastly, smoking can cause complications in women undergoing breast cancer treatment. Bottom line: quit smoking. If you need help, check out the American Cancer Society’s Quit Smoking Program

Exercise 

Exercising, or just moving around regularly, can help you lose or maintain weight, which helps reduce your risk of breast cancer. But, studies have shown that moderate to vigorous physical activity most days of the week is associated with a lower breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society recommendation is 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity spread throughout the week. A combination of both is even better. 

Breastfeed, if possible

There are many benefits of breastfeeding for your baby for the first several months of their life. Some of them include a reduced risk of childhood obesity, respiratory tract infection, and type 1 and type 2 diabetes. But there are also many benefits for the mom as well. New moms who breastfeed experience decreased postpartum bleeding, a quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight, and a reduced risk of both breast and ovarian cancer. 

If you have risk factors that you can’t control, such as having a family member with breast cancer, or if you have the BRCA1 or BRCA1 gene, you should discuss other steps you can take to lower your risk with a medical professional.

To learn more about your risk factors and how to prevent breast cancer, call North Atlantic Women’s Care, or make an appointment online. 

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