Every October we gear up to support breast cancer awareness, and there is an increase in breast cancer screenings, overall education, and a focus on prevention. There are several preventative measures one can take to reduce the risk of breast cancer. While the risk of breast cancer increases for women who gain weight after menopause, habits that combat obesity also helps decrease the risk of breast cancer.
Exercising: Research shows that women who exercise show lower levels of cancer-causing estrogen. The recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to get a least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. This exercise should increase your heart rate and cause you to break a sweat.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight: The risk of breast cancer increases when women gain weight after menopause, but research also shows a link between breast cancer risk and women whom have been overweight for a majority of their lives. A study by the American Cancer Society suggests that women who gained more than 60 pounds after age 18 were twice as likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer post menopause. Similarly, the risk of breast cancer decreases if you lose weight. Women whom lose weight and kept it off for more than four years had a 40% lower risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Eating Fruits and Veggies: Consuming food that contains carotenoids may lower the risk of breast cancer by 50%. Carotenoids have cancer-fighting properties that deactivate free radicals, which play a major role in the development of cancer in the body. Foods that contain carotenoids include spinach, kale, and tomatoes. Many vegetables that are orange-colored are loaded with carotenoids.
Avoiding Excess Alcohol: Because alcohol changes the way estrogen is metabolized, it is linked to increased breast cancer risk when consumed in high amounts on a regular basis. Higher estrogen levels may increase the risk of breast cancer, and alcohol may cause estrogen levels to increase. In addition, alcohol contains empty calories that have little to no nutritional benefits and will not help you lose weight and adapt a healthy lifestyle.
Other prevention strategies include refraining from smoking, being aware of family history, and getting screened. According to the American Cancer Society, women over the age of 45 should make it a point to schedule a mammogram annually. Women between the ages of 25 and 40 should get a clinical breast exam every 1 to 3 years.