Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among women, according to the American Cancer Society. While there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, there are things you can do that might lower your risk. In light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here are some lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk.
Get to and Stay at a Healthy Weight
Both increased body weight and weight gain as an adult are linked with a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause. The American Cancer Society recommends you stay at a healthy weight throughout your life and avoid excess weight gain by balancing your food intake with physical activity.
Be Physically Active
Many studies have shown that moderate to vigorous physical activity is linked with lower breast cancer risk, so it’s important to exercise regularly. Adults are recommended to get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 to 100 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week. Getting to or exceeding the upper limit of 300 minutes is ideal.
Avoid or Limit Alcohol
Alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer. Even low levels of alcohol intake have been linked with an increase in risk. If you do drink, try to limit yourself to no more than 1 alcoholic drink a day. One drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof hard liquor.
Other Factors That Might Lower Risk
Women who choose to breastfeed for at least several months may also get an added benefit of reducing their breast cancer risk. Another thing to keep in mind is hormone therapy after menopause. It has been shown to increase your risk of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society advises to avoid hormone therapy, talk to your HealthLynked provider about non-hormonal options to treat menopausal symptoms.
For Women at Increased Risk of Breast Cancer
If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, a known gene mutation that increases cancer risk, or have had Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) or Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS), there are some things you can do that might help lower your chances of developing breast cancer. Some of these things include:
- Genetic counseling and testing for breast cancer risk
- Close observation to look for early signs of breast cancer
- Medicines to lower breast cancer risk
- Preventive surgery
Your HealthLynked provider can help you determine your risk of breast cancer, as well as which, if any, of these options might be right for you.
While there are things you can do to lower your risk of breast cancer, the most important thing is to 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 based on your personal history.