While we may not know what causes breast cancer exactly, we are privy to some pretty easy treatments and lifestyle changes that can prevent breast cancer. In this article, we’re covering 10 pieces of professional advice that will help you and/or the women in your lives reduce the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer and live healthier lives. The best part is that this advice comes directly from health professionals. Take a look:
1. Perform monthly breast self-exams.
One of the most common ways to prevent breast cancer, self-exams can be done in the shower, lying down or in front of the mirror. If you feel a lump or are just unsure of what you’re examining, it’s best to schedule a mammogram with your physician.
“Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.” – John Hopkins Medical Center
If you need a mammogram, but can’t afford one, The National Breast Cancer Foundation hosts a National Mammography Program where they partner with medical facilities across the country to provide free services.
2. Diet and lifestyle.
Another easy way to prevent breast cancer is to develop a healthy diet and lifestyle. This means eating clean, exercising regularly and drinking lots of water. According to the NHS UK, “Studies have looked at the link between breast cancer and diet and, although there are no definite conclusions at the moment, there are benefits for women who maintain a healthy weight, do regular exercise and who have a low intake of saturated fat and alcohol. ” If you’re interested in jump starting a more active lifestyle, use their Healthy Weight Calculator to learn what your caloric intake should be.
When women are breastfeeding, they don’t regularly ovulate and their estrogen levels remain stable. Professionals don’t know if this is directly linked to preventing breast cancer, however, studies have shown that breastfeeding women are less likely to develop breast cancer.
4. Reduce your risk with treatment.
Treatment is available to reduce your risk of breast cancer if your risk of developing it is higher. Risk level is determined by your families health history, your age, and the results of genetic tests. The main treatments to reduce or prevent breast cancer are mastectomy – which is surgery to remove the breasts – and medication.
A mastectomy is a surgery that removes one or both breasts altogether. The risk of breast cancer can be reduced up to 90% once a mastectomy is performed, as it’s supposed to remove as much breast tissue as possible. Some women have breast reconstruction during the mastectomy operation or on another date.
6. Cut down alcohol intake.
In 2000, the National Institutes of Health listed the consumption of alcoholic beverages as a “known human carcinogen” for the first time. Prevent breast cancer by not drinking as much alcohol or any at all as doing so only increases your chances of becoming a victim. Have a ‘mocktail’ instead.
7. Say Goodbye to Hormones.
When it comes to hormones, Dr. Oz advises us to “Take it for as long as you need it, but probably less than five years is reasonable.” Most women use hormone therapy to cope with irritability, hot flashes and trouble sleeping. However, a recent study shows that taking hormones may increase the risk of breast cancer. If you or your doctor don’t recognize symptoms of menopause, it’s best to skip to skip hormones altogether.
Tamoxifen and raloxifene are two estrogen-blocking medications designed for women who have an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Both medications can be used in women who’ve been through menopause, but women who haven’t should only take tamoxifen.
9. Control your BMI.
“For a woman who weighs over 175 pounds, the chances of breast cancer are about 25 percent higher than someone who weighs 132 pounds,” says Dr. Oz. Prevent breast cancer by first knowing your BMI and then striving to keep it under 25. Obese women are more likely to die from breast cancer as it’s often detected in the last stage for them.
10. Refrain from Smoking.
A Canadian panel of experts recently revealed that smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke increase breast cancer in pre-menopausal women. When women start smoking at a young age, they’re 20% more likely to develop breast cancer while continuously smoking increases the risk by 30%. The role smoking has in breast cancer is slightly unclear, but its better to play it safe and refrain from it altogether.
Featured photo credit: PARSHOTAM LAL TANDON via flickr.com