While some risk factors for breast cancer cannot be controlled, such as family history and aging, there are some lifestyle modifications that you can make now to decrease your risk for breast cancer. A risk factor is anything that increases your risk of getting a disease. However, having a risk factor for cancer, or even many risk factors, does not mean that you’ll be diagnosed with cancer.
In today’s blog, we’ll be going over the modifications you can make now to live a healthy life, and in turn, lower your potential risk for breast cancer.
1. Limit your alcohol intake. Research has shown that the more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk for breast cancer is. The general recommendation is to limit yourself to less than one drink a day.
2. Avoid smoking. If you’re a smoker, take the steps today to quit. There is a correlation between smokers and breast cancer that places them at a higher risk of developing this kind of cancer.
3. Manage your weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk for breast cancer, especially if this weight gain has occurred after menopause.
4. Maintain a physically active lifestyle. Physical activity can help you manage your weight, which helps to lower your risk of breast cancer. How much exercise should you aim for each week? For healthy adults, 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity plus strength training a couple of times a week is recommended.
5. Breastfeeding. Research shows that breastfeeding may play a role in preventing breast cancer. The longer a woman breastfeeds, the greater the protective and preventive effect.
6. Limiting dose and duration of hormone therapy. Being on hormone therapy for more than 3-5 years increases your risk for breast cancer. If you’re on hormone therapy due to menopause symptoms, discuss your other potential options with your provider.
What Else Can You Do?
It’s important that throughout your life, you’re vigilant about self-checks and mammograms. Adult women are encouraged to perform self-exams on their breasts at least once a month. Johns Hopkins Medical Center states, “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.” If you feel a lump, reach out to your provider for further examination and tests.
For women ages 40 and older, it is important to speak with your provider regarding your breast cancer risk and screening recommendations. Typically regular mammograms are encouraged annually starting between the age of 40 to 50. With our state-of-the-art 3-D mammography machine, you can trust that you’re receiving the best care possible, close to home. To schedule your mammogram screening, give Moab Regional Hospital a call at 435-719-3794.