What Every Woman Should Know About Breast Cancer Prevention

The first thing you should know about breast cancer is that it’s common. An estimated 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. It’s the most common cancer among women after skin cancer and the deadliest for women after lung cancer. 

While October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a good time to learn how you can prevent this deadly disease, it’s important to practice prevention tips all year round. Research shows that healthy lifestyle modifications and regular screenings can lower your risk of developing breast cancer. 

There are risk factors that you can’t change, of course. But even if you’re at an elevated risk because of family history, you can still work with your doctor to lessen the threat breast cancer poses.  

Lifestyle factors that can help lower your risk of breast cancer

There are things you should do and things you should avoid to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. Women at high risk can also benefit from following these healthy lifestyle modifications.

Maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing breast cancer, especially if you gain weight when you’re older. Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight can improve your overall health and energy level, in addition to lowering your risk of breast cancer.

Quit smoking

If you still smoke, quit now. You’ll not only notice immediate benefits when you quit, such as better breath and lung function, but you’ll also reduce your risk of developing a whole host of serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and other cancers in addition to breast cancer.

Exercise

Studies have shown that moderate to vigorous physical exercise most days of the week is linked with a lower breast cancer risk. Additionally, it helps you lose or maintain your weight, which can also lower your risk.

Drink alcohol in moderation

Studies have also indicated a link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer. To lower your risk of breast cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends that women have no more than one alcoholic beverage a day.

How women with an increased risk can prevent breast cancer

You can’t change some known breast cancer risk factors, such as having a family history of the disease, having a known genetic mutation such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene (which stands for breast cancer 1 gene and breast cancer 2 gene), being a woman, or getting older. 

In addition to the lifestyle changes mentioned above, you have medical options to decrease your risk. These include taking preventive medications and getting mammogram screenings earlier than age 40 and more frequently. In some cases, women at high risk may opt for preventive surgery to remove their ovaries or breasts.  

For more information on breast cancer prevention, make an appointment with Dr. Robin McKinney at Cosmopolitan Medical Practice in East Harlem, New York. 

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