October 11, 2018
What You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk for Breast Cancer
What You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk for Breast Cancer: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the color pink is everywhere, urging you to donate to organizations like Susan G. Komen or to participate in events like Race for the Cure. While you’re doing your part to raise awareness and raise funds to help find a cure for this disease that is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in women, be sure you’re also doing what you can for your own breast health.
What are the diseasefactors for breast cancer?
Some women will get breast cancer even without any known risk factors, and having a risk factor does not mean you will get the disease. Most women have some risk factors, but most women do not get breast cancer.
Your risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors, some you can change, and some you cannot.
- We are getting older. Most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50. Thus, our risk for breast cancer increases with age. Obviously, we can’t keep ourselves from getting older, but we can do things to stay healthy as we age.
- It is being overweight or obese after menopause. Older women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those at a normal weight and women who are not physically active have a higher risk of getting breast cancer, too. So eat right and exercise regularly, even as you get older.
- Increased alcohol consumption. Studies also show that a woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks, specifically if she has two to 5 drinks per day. So be sure to limit your alcohol consumption, too.
- Early puberty or late menopause. If you started your period before age 12 or started menopause after age 55 your risk for breast cancer is higher due to being exposed to hormones longer.
- Family history of breast cancer. A woman’s risk for breast cancer is higher if she has a first-degree relative or multiple relatives (on either her mother’s or father’s side of the family) who have had breast cancer.
What can I do to reduce my risk of breast cancer?
Once you turn 40 be sure to get a mammogram annually. If you have a significant family history of breast cancer, start earlier. There is minimal radiation exposure from mammograms and early screenings may decrease mortality and morbidity significantly.
- It’s important to also do monthly self-exams, as well as get an annual diseasebreast exam by your doctor.
- Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly.
- Avoid alcohol or limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one per day.