Breast cancer affects one out of every eight women in our country today. It seems almost everyone has a friend, family member, co-worker, or acquaintance that has been affected by this disease.
Yet despite our awareness of it and its impact on so many lives, many women don’t know what they can do to help lower their risk of getting breast cancer. It’s important to note that breast cancer cannot be totally prevented because there are many risk factors you can’t control. But, knowing your own risk and what you can do to lower it is a great way to minimize your chances of getting the disease.
Here are some ways to help lower your chances of getting it:
- Drink alcohol only in moderation or not at all. Evidence shows that women who have two or more drinks per day have a much higher risk of getting breast cancer. If you decide to drink, limit it to no more than one drink per day.
- Work toward a healthy weight. Women who are overweight, especially after menopause, have a higher risk of getting breast cancer. This may be due to the higher levels of estrogen that are stored in body fat.
- Don’t smoke. You already know smoking can increase your risk of lung cancer and breathing problems. It also increases your risk of many other cancers, including breast cancer. In addition, you should avoid secondhand smoke, as it contains many cancer-causing chemicals as well.
- Get active. Exercising four to seven hours per week has been shown to lower the incidence of breast cancer. Walking, aerobics, and swimming are some good options.
Knowing your risk of breast cancer — and doing what you can to minimize it — is your best defense against this disease. But remember, if someone does get breast cancer, it doesn’t mean they did anything wrong. Unfortunately, some women who have no apparent risk factors for breast cancer still end up getting it. This may be due to still-unknown environmental or genetic factors that contribute to the disease.
If you have known genetic risk factors for breast cancer, it’s important to see your physician as recommended for screenings and checkups. Women who have a family history of breast cancer, or who have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, may need to be extra diligent about regular mammograms.
Until we have all the answers, researchers will continue to study breast cancer and its causes in hopes of someday finding a cure.
CarePoint Health Gynecology
With the help of a skilled gynecologist at CarePoint Health, you can make educated decisions about your health to be at your best at any stage of life. For more information about the comprehensive women’s services we provide, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.