Reduce breast cancer risk with changes in lifestyle
Reduce breast cancer risk with changes in lifestyle
If one is concerned about breast cancer, she may be wondering whether there are steps one can take for the prevention of the dreaded disease. Some risk factors, such as family history, a major cause, can't be changed, but there are lifestyle changes one can make to lower the risk.
The following are some of the steps one can take to lower breast cancer risk:
Limit alcohol consumption: The more alcohol one drinks, the greater is the risk of developing breast cancer. If one chooses to drink alcohol — including beer, wine or liquor — limit it to no more than one drink a day.
Don't smoke: Accumulating evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women. In addition, not smoking is one of the best things one can do for overall health.
Control weight: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.
Be physically active: Physical activity can help in maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer. For most healthy adults, the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.
Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding may play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer one breast-feeds, the greater the protective effect.
Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy: Combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer. If one is taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask the doctor about other options. One may be able to manage the symptoms with nonhormonal therapies such as physical activity. If she decides that the benefits of short-term hormone therapy outweigh the risks, use the lowest dose.
Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution
Medical-imaging methods, such as computerised tomography, use high doses of radiation, which have been linked with breast cancer risk. Reduce exposure by having such tests only when absolutely necessary. While more studies are needed, some research suggests a link between breast cancer and exposure to the chemicals found in some workplaces, gasoline fumes and vehicle exhaust.
Is there a link between birth control pills and breast cancer?
A number of older studies suggested that birth control pills slightly increased the risk of breast cancer, especially among younger women. In these studies, however, 10 years after discontinuing birth control pills women's risk of breast cancer returned to the same level as that of women who never used oral contraceptives. Current evidence does not support an increase in breast cancer with birth control pills.
Be vigilant about breast cancer detection. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump or skin changes, consult your doctor. Also, ask your doctor when to begin mammograms and other screenings.
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