Breast cancer is a life-threatening problem that affects millions of Americans each and every year. While the majority of individuals impacted by breast cancer are women, men can suffer as well.
Even if you visit your doctor regularly and get routine screenings it may not be enough. Use this guide to help you learn more about everyday changes you can make to reduce your risk.
Not everybody needs to lose weight to reduce his or her risk of developing breast cancer, but being overweight or obese can increase the likelihood that you’ll get it after menopause. Keeping a body mass index (BMI) of around 25 is ideal. To do this, you may need to change your diet and exercise frequently. Check out our Nutrition Manual for healthy tips and recipes.
Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy life, but not getting enough exercise can increase your breast cancer risk. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per day.
If you haven’t been physically active in a while, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor for an evaluation before starting any exercise program. Your doctor may also be able to recommend exercises that are ideal for your level of fitness and any existing physical conditions.
Reduce Sugar Intake
Sugar can create stress in the body and increase your risk for developing breast cancer. You may not be able to cut it out of your diet completely, but cutting back on portions of things like sweets, high fructose corn syrup, candy, sugar-filled sodas and coffee drinks may decrease your risk.
Eliminating or reducing your intake of sugar can also help you lose weight, which is another factor that can increase your breast cancer risk, especially if you are obese. Sugar substitutes may seem like a good alternative, but many haven’t been around long enough to go through the necessary trials to see how they impact the body over time.
Abstain From Alcohol
Drinking alcohol on a regular basis, no matter what type of alcohol you drink, has been associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. Women that are at a high risk should try to avoid alcohol altogether, though many may find that difficult in social settings.
If you can’t give up drinking altogether, women should limit their alcohol intake to one drink per day.
Drink Green Tea
Green tea is full of antioxidants that can help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer over time. That’s why it’s an ideal substitute for coffee and other beverages. It is also easy to brew and drink without sugar, helping you reduce your intake at the same time.
Aim for two cups of green tea per day and look for high-quality green tea that hasn’t been heavily processed. It will taste better and offer the most health benefits.
Eat Green Vegetables
Like green tea, green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach are full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that may help to reduce your breast cancer risk, as well as your risk of developing other types of cancer.
Green vegetables are also part of a healthy low fat diet that can help you lose weight or maintain an ideal weight.
Stress is known as the silent killer. While there’s no direct link between stress and breast cancer, we do know that too much can lead to health issues and weight gain.
Take steps to reduce stress in your life before it impacts your health in a negative manner.
Monitor Progesterone Levels
Progesterone levels can fall when a woman reaches menopause, and that’s the time breast cancer risk is at its highest. Monitoring your progesterone levels with your doctor is something you should be doing on a regular basis with diagnostic testing.
If you find that your progesterone levels are too low, your doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy. Keeping your progesterone levels steady can help to lower your breast cancer risk.
You may also get other benefits from hormone replacement therapy if you’re in the beginning stages of menopause. Many women stop having hot flashes and other menopause related issues once they begin regular hormone therapy. Just make sure trained professionals are monitoring your levels.
Get Regular Screenings
Women over the age of 25 should be getting regular breast exams twice per year in addition to self-screening at home. Self-screening should begin at the age of 18.
Annual mammograms should also be scheduled when women reach the age of 25. If you have a family history of breast cancer onset before the age of 25, regular mammograms should start earlier however.
With proper preventative care, diet and exercise, you can significantly lower your risk of breast cancer. Be sure to make your annual well-woman and well-man exams a priority in your life, so you can stay aware of any potential irregularities, or signs of breast cancer.