Early detection and healthy lifestyles can help lower your risk
If you see pink everywhere, then you know it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. This yearly campaign is targeted at raising consciousness about breast cancer. Check out these interesting facts:
- Of all types of cancer, did you know that breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer in women? (Skin cancers are the most common.)
- Of all types of cancer, did you know that breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women? (Lung cancer is the first.)
In other words, this is a disease that affects many women (and men too), and the more aware we are, the better able we are to detect it early, get treatment early, and live as healthy a lifestyle as possible.
Early detection and self-exams
One of the major tools in fighting breast cancer is early detection. Talk to your doctor about breast self-exams and the best course of regular screenings for you. Ask your doctor to assess your risk of breast cancer, based on your genetic and other factors. Then be sure to comply with the screenings that your doctor recommends. The frequency of mammograms recommended by your doctor will depend on your age and other risk factors.
Lifestyle factors you can control
There are many risk factors for breast cancer that may be out of your control—like genetics and age. However, there are some basic recommendations for healthy living that can help reduce your risk of getting breast cancer. Here are some of them, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Avoid smoking. While you may know that smoking is bad for your lungs, did you know it also increases your risk of breast cancer? If you don’t smoke, don’t start. And if you do smoke, it may be time to make that effort to quit once and for all. Talk to your doctor about ways to quit, or try the stop-smoking resources at the American Lung Association.
- Limit alcoholic drinks. Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing breast cancer. To live a healthier lifestyle, try to limit your drinking to less than one drink per day.
- Keep at a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese is very hard on your body, and among other things, it can impact your risk for getting breast cancer. Do you need to lose weight? If so, start by talking to your doctor about a healthy weight loss plan. One place to start is the American Heart Association’s Master the Scale plan.
- Avoid being sedentary. In today’s job market, many people have sedentary jobs and sedentary lifestyles where they spend too much time sitting. Being sedentary can lead to weight gain and thereby increase your risk. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, and also including strength training in your workout twice a week. Are you finding the time? If not, maybe it’s time to join the gym or find a friend to help motivate you to work out!
- Breast-feed if you can. Breastfeeding, according to the Mayo Clinic, has shown some evidence of reducing the risk of developing breast cancer. If you are a new or expecting mother, you may want to consider this when deciding whether to breastfeed.
- Avoid or limit hormone therapy. If you are taking hormone therapy for menopause symptoms, talk to your doctor about breast cancer risk. There may be non-hormonal therapies or other options that may not be tied to breast cancer risk.
There are many great organizations that help raise awareness about breast cancer, early detection, and treatment options. Try these for more information:
This article was provided by the Harris Casel Institute in Melbourne, Florida. We hope we have helped raise your awareness of breast