Breast Cancer 101: 9 Tips To Ward Off The Most Common Type Of Cancer That Affects Women

Date February 1, 2018

Breast cancer is one the diseases that women dread most. Of all types of cancer that affect women, it is the most common one. But if you look at the official breast cancer survival statistics, you'll find out it also has one of the highest survival rates among different types of the disease. For that, we can thank newer and more precise tests to detect breast cancer and effective modern treatments. But is there a way to prevent the disease?

The answer is, there is no guaranteed way to eliminate the risk of breast cancer altogether. But there are some things you can do to lower your chances of getting the disease and find it early if you do get it.

Here's what you can do to decrease your risk of breast cancer:

1. Don't smoke

As you may have heard countless times, smoking puts you at risk of many types of cancer, including breast cancer. Passive smoking can also be harmful if you’re exposed to the smoke regularly. Not smoking, on the other hand, can greatly reduce your risk of various diseases, including cancer.

2. Drink alcohol in moderation

Drinking is a known risk factor for the development of many types cancer, and breast cancer is one of them. Women shouldn't consume more than one drink a day, and it's better to limit alcohol consumption even further or refrain from drinking altogether.

3. Start eating a healthier diet

Your diet affects every aspect of your well-being. To reduce your risk of breast cancer and other cancers, eat more fruits and vegetables (they contain antioxidants, which are thought to help prevent cancer), healthy fats from sources such as olive oil and nuts, and eliminate (or at least limit) processed meats and other processed foods from your diet.

4. Stay at a healthy weight

Being obese puts women at a higher risk of breast cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight with regular exercise and healthy eating is one of the things you can do to lower your risk of breast cancer.

5. Get enough exercise

Not only does exercise help you stay in good shape and at a normal weight, but it is also thought to contribute to breast cancer prevention. The general recommendation for healthy adults is to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise every week. Even if you can't fit that much exercise into your schedule, any physical activity counts, and that includes taking the stairs instead of an elevator, walking to your work if it's nearby instead of driving, or other things that keep you moving.

6. Breastfeed

Natural feeding is good for the baby, and it's also good for the mother, as it turns out. Prevention cites a study that found that breastfeeding for the first six months reduces the risk of breast cancer by 10%.

7. Do regular self-examinations

It doesn't lower your risk of getting breasts cancer, but it can help you find unusual changes in your breasts and get them checked by a doctor before your routine breast exam. Become familiar with what your breasts normally feel and look like, and see your doctor if you notice changes that concern you.

8. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of hormone therapy

Once you reach menopause, your ovaries stop making estrogen and progesterone, which may cause a number of unpleasant symptoms. Many women opt for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to relieve their menopausal symptoms, but women who are at an increased risk of breast cancer are advised against using HRT. Ask your doctor if the benefits of hormone therapy outweigh the risks for you personally.

9. Consider genetic counseling

If you have a family history of breast cancer and other types of cancer, you may want to know about your personal cancer risk. Faulty BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are responsible for high risk of breast cancer, so you may consider a test to find out if they run in your family. Some women whose risk of breast cancer high opts for preventive double mastectomy (Angelina Jolie had this procedure when she found out about her inherited risk). Other women simply have more regular screenings.

Like other types of the disease, breast cancer isn't always preventable. But you can lower your risk of getting the disease by adopting healthy habits. Also, don't forget about your annual breast exams - finding the problem early can save your life.

Source: NCI (1), NCI (2), American Cancer Society, Mayo Clinic, Prevention

READ ALSO: 5 Early Symptoms Of Ovarian Cancer And What Can Be Done To Prevent It

This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.

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