Preventative Measures to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Women exercising to help reduce breast cancer risk

Every woman faces the risk of breast cancer, especially as she ages, since most breast cancers are diagnosed in women over age 50. However, many known breast cancer risk factors are directly linked to how we take care of ourselves. Staying healthy by making the right lifestyle choices lowers breast cancer risk, as well as, improves the chance of survival in those diagnosed. 

Factors That Increase Breast Cancer Risk: 

Women increase their risk if they:

  • Have a sedentary and inactive lifestyle 
  • Are overweight or obese after menopause  
  • Receive Hormone Replacement Therapy (combined estrogen and progesterone) during menopause for five or more years
  • Have first pregnancy after age 30, choose not to breastfeed, or never have a full-term pregnancy
  • Drink alcohol

Other risk factors that may increase breast cancer risk include smoking, exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, and hormone changes due to night work.  

Tips to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk: 

  • Maintain a healthy weight - Fat cells produce estrogen. Extra fat cells mean more estrogen in the body.  Estrogen can make hormone-receptor-positive (HRP) breast cancers develop and grow.
  • Get regular exercise – 30 minutes of daily activity is recommended. Walking, yoga, bicycling, kickboxing, dance or any sport you enjoy participating in, are great ways to burn calories while strengthening your body.
  • Eat healthily – Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low- or fat-free milk and milk products, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Watch for and avoid saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium/salt, and added refined sugars. Be conscious of staying within your recommended daily calorie range. 
  • Avoid alcohol or limit alcohol intake to one serving/day – Studies show alcohol increases a woman’s risk of HRP breast cancer, as it can increase estrogen levels and hormones associated with breast cancer and may damage cell DNA. Just three alcoholic drinks a week increases a woman’s breast cancer risk by 15-percent. The breast cancer risk percentage jumps 10-percent for each additional drink regularly consumed each day.
  • Discuss medications -- Some medications, like Hormone Replacement Therapy or oral contraceptives, contain estrogen. Talk with your doctor to weigh risks and determine what is right for you.
  • Breastfeed your children -- Breastfeeding helps breast cells maintain proper function, reduces menstrual cycles, thus lowers estrogen levels, and helps women better maintain healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices (proper diet plus elimination of smoking and alcohol use.)  
  • Know your family history -- If you have a family history of breast cancer, discuss with your physician. They can provide you with options to reduce your breast cancer risk, including pursuing genetic counseling, genetic testing, and/or additional screening methods like an MRI, if prescribed.

For further details about new findings regarding breast cancer risk, visit https://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/risk-factors 

Talk to your Capital Women’s Care team to devise a personal breast health regimen and screening based on your personal breast cancer risk factors.

Our Mission

The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.

 

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