Breast cancer has claimed the lives of women old and young, famous and non-famous, black and white, rich and poor. It has taken mothers, aunts, sisters, wives, grandmas and friends. Because breast cancer has affected the lives of so many people, women tend to worry about developing it. But the best way to combat that worry is by taking action through preventative measures. Here are 10 ways to prevent breast cancer.
Limit Alcohol Intake
While drinking a glass of wine may be helpful for preventing cardiovascular disease, it’s not so helpful for preventing breast cancer. Studies show that alcohol intake, even in limited quantities, can increase the risk for developing breast cancer. And the more you drink, the higher the risk is, so try not to drink more than one glass of alcohol per day.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Studies have also linked obesity to breast cancer and have shown that weight gain, particularly weight gain after menopause, can increase the risk for breast cancer. So be sure to maintain a healthy weight over the course of your life to keep breast cancer at bay.
Get Plenty Of Exercise
The best way to keep those extra pounds off is to exercise. If you don’t have a regular exercise regimen already, be sure to incorporate some sort of aerobic exercise such as walking or swimming, along with strength training, into your daily routine.
Stick To A Healthy Diet
Another way to keep those pounds off is to eat a healthy, balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, protein and carbohydrates. Limit your intake of fat so as not to increase your weight, which can increase the risk of breast cancer. Stick to fruits and vegetables that contain a lot of antioxidants, such as blueberries, pomegranates, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Those antioxidants can combat any precancerous cells that may be in your body.
Incorporate Whole Soy Foods Into Your Diet
Although many women are leery about adding soy into their diets, it can actually be beneficial, especially when it comes to preventing breast cancer. But the key is to take in moderate amounts of soy, and to only eat foods that contain whole soy such as tofu, miso and edamame. Foods that use processed soy are the ones to avoid because the isoflavones they contain can mimic estrogen, which fuels cancer cell production.
Although many women choose not to breastfeed their children, it is a good idea to do so and may even benefit baby girls as well. Breastfeeding reduces your exposure to the hormone estrogen, which fuels the production of breast cancer cells. Because your exposure to estrogen is reduced, the risk of developing breast cancer is reduced as well. The longer you breastfeed over your lifetime, the lower the risk and some studies show that it may even lower the risk for women who were breastfed as babies.
Stop Hormone Therapy
Many women take synthetic hormones to manage menopause symptoms and other conditions, but hormone therapy can also increase the risk for breast cancer. If you’re taking hormone therapy, you may want to consult with your doctor about using other methods to control your symptoms or about switching to a lower dosage.
Try To Avoid Environmental Pollution
Some studies have linked environmental pollution, particularly the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found in car exhausts and air pollution, with breast cancer. While further studies are needed to prove this link, there are some things you can do to avoid air pollution, if you’re worried about it. You can check the air quality levels before going outside and avoid the outdoors on days when it’s smoggy or smoky. Don’t burn trash or other substances in your yard and only use your car when necessary.
Take A Genetics Test
If there’s a history of breast cancer in your family, you may want to take a genetics test to see if you’re at risk of developing it yourself. However, testing can be expensive and time consuming, so it’s best to consult with a genetic counselor before considering it. If you do decide to undergo genetic testing and are at risk for developing breast cancer, there are other steps you can take to prevent it such as taking certain drugs or having preventative surgery.
Follow Early Detection Guidelines
The best way to prevent breast cancer is to follow early detection guidelines so you can catch the cancer before it spreads. Give yourself a regular breast exam every few weeks to make sure that your breasts feel normal. If you do feel a lump or something out of the ordinary, have it checked out by a doctor immediately. In addition to self-exams, it’s important to have regular breast exams and mammograms as well.
The American Cancer Society recommends getting a Clinical Breast Exam every three years if you are in your 20s or 30s and every year if you are in your 40s. Women in their 40s should also get a mammogram at least once a year if they are in good health.
While these are all great ways to prevent breast cancer, following them does not guarantee that you won’t ever develop breast cancer. However, following them can minimize the risk of developing breast cancer while improving the state of your health as well.