5 Healthy Habits for Reducing the Risk of Breast Cancer
Every woman alive is up against the threat of developing breast cancer, as it is the most common cancer in women worldwide. And even though we cannot eliminate the risk of cancer completely, we can reduce the risk of developing it by adopting a new healthy lifestyle. We sat down with a health care professional to go over 5 of the best habits for minimizing the chance of getting the big C, here’s what she said:
1. Regular exercise!
It’s no secret that regular exercise provides a myriad of benefits for our body. This can range from releasing endorphins for our mental health to increasing our cardiovascular fitness levels. Many studies have shown that regular exercise can reduce the risk of cancer by lowering the levels of estrogen (a hormone which increases the risk of breast cancer) in the body, decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress and boosts our overall immune function. It is recommended to aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week as a risk reducing measure. However, if you’re not one for being a gym junkie, then exercise can be achieved through other methods such as gardening, brisk walking, or taking the stairs whenever you can!
2. Eat well, live well
We all know the old saying, bodies are made in the kitchen. This is true, not only is 80% of our weight instigated by our diet but the foods we eat can either decrease or increase the risk of cancer. Eating a low-fat diet packed with vitamins, minerals, cruciferous vegetables and fibre not only reduces our body fat percentage (thus lowering the exposure of estrogen) but also provides the body with cancer fighting nutrients. But that’s not all, did you know, vitamin D and E, that are found in leafy greens and oily fish have been shown to reduce the grow of cancer cells!
3. Get your screen time.
When we talk about screen time, we don’t mean Netflix or your regular cooking show, we mean regular breast screening through self-breast examination or clinical breast scans. This is especially important if you are at high risk of breast cancer or are over the age of 40. It is a known fact that every woman’s breasts are different. Some may be naturally lumpy while others are not and therefore its always important to get to know the normal look and feel of your breasts and the tissues within your armpit. Swelling, breast lump, dimpling, nipple discharge, persistent itching/ rash and changes in breast size are all common symptoms found in breast cancer which can be detected through self- breast examination. Early detection of breast cancer can increase the 5-year survival rate by 90%!
4. Know your risk factors:
Although breast cancer can affect any woman with breasts, there are some women that are potentially at higher risk of developing breast cancer. When it comes to our breast health, knowledge is power.
Risk factors of breast cancer include:
- Know your genes: Cancer does not run in families, however women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes carry a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- Alcohol: Some of us are partial to a drink or two, however, the risk of developing breast cancer increases by approximately 10% of every alcoholic drink consumed each day.
- Dense breast tissue: Breasts which have dense breast tissue (more granular, less fatty tissue) have an increased risk of breast cancer. But that’s not all, high breast density can also produces false/negative mammography tests.
- Estrogen exposure: Starting menstruation before the age of 12 has been linked to an increase in the risk of certain breast cancers due to the length of exposure to the estrogen hormone.
- Previous breast cancer, or benign breast lump: This can increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
- Smoking: Not only does smoking affect our lung and oral health, research has shown a link between smoking tobacco and breast cancer.
All hail motherhood! Not only can bringing a child in this world provide us with unconditional love (and the ability to function on very little sleep!), research has shown that pregnancy, particularly before the age of 30 years old, can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 50%. But that’s not all, research has also shown that choosing to breastfeed for 6-12 months can stabilize the cells within the breast tissue and reduce the levels of estrogen and thus acting as a risk reducing strategy. If that’s not enough, research has also suggested that breast feeding not only reduces our risk of cancer, but that of our breastfed child too!
*The content provided herein is for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice or as substitute for a consultation with a physician.
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