Every two to three minutes a woman in the US is diagnosed with breast cancer. I personally know one woman who was diagnosed this year, one who was diagnosed last year and two who are survivors. I don’t think I know anyone who has not been touched by the disease personally or through a family member or friend. The good news is that rates of breast cancer began to drop in the year 2000. Experts believe the decrease is due to a reduction in the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal women after a large study suggested a connection between HRT and breast cancer.
Many of the risk factors for breast cancer are things we can’t control like gender (women have a much higher rate than men), age, and genetic factors. But there are some lifestyle habits that can help reduce risk.
A healthy lifestyle that includes good nutrition and regular exercise is a good plan to lower the risk for any cancer. And, incidentally, exercise can lower the mortality rate for those who have already been diagnosed. Below are a few other research based tips to consider as a part of your breast cancer prevention plan.
- Be sure your vitamin D levels are optimal. Research has shown that a deficiency can raise cancer risk. Have your level checked as a part of your routine annual checkup.
- Speaking of vitamins-be sure you get plenty of vitamin A, which also plays a role in cancer prevention. Get your vitamin A by eating plenty of colorful fruits and vegetable.
- Avoid charring your meats-charcoal or flame broiled meat is linked with higher breast cancer risk.
- Women of childbearing age should breastfeed their babies if at all possible; research shows it lowers breast cancer risk.
- Avoid alcohol or limit yourself to one drink per day.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight is a known risk factor for breast cancer as excess fat produces estrogen-which feeds some types of breast cancer.
- Have regular checkups and mammograms according to your doctor’s recommendation.
- Maintain an awareness of your breasts, checking them on a regular basis for changes such as puckering, change in size, redness or swelling, nipple discharge, a mass or lump. Report these changes to your doctor right away.
I have recently read about “mammogram parties” where a group of friends all schedule their mammograms together, then go out and celebrate afterward. Ladies, let’s all take care of each other and bring those breast cancer rates down!
Be Well on Purpose!