We have all heard it – what we eat, what we do, how we live may have an effect on our risk of getting breast cancer. We can’t alter family history, but according to research, there are some things we can change that help lower our risk. Here is a list compiled by the Mayo Clinic:
- Don’t smoke. Accumulating evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women. Besides, not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.
- Control your 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 you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer. For most healthy adults, the 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.
- Breast-feed. Breast-feeding might play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breast-feed, 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 you’re taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor about other options.
- Limit alcohol. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. Generally it’s recommended to limit yourself to less than 1 drink per day as even small amounts increase risk.
- Eat a healthy diet. Eating a healthy diet might decrease your risk of some types of cancer, as well as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. For example, women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts might have a reduced risk of breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet focuses on mostly on plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. People who follow the Mediterranean diet choose healthy fats, like olive oil, over butter and fish instead o f red meat.
- Living a healthier lifestyle may reduce the risk of breast cancer, but always be vigilant about detection. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump or skin changes, consult your doctor. Ask your doctor when to begin mammograms and other screenings based on your personal history.