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Be Proactive - Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer

  • Category: General Health
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Matt Gougler
Be Proactive - Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer's statistical story is unsettling:

  • One in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer. (Invasive cancers spread to other parts of the body.)
  • This year alone, more than 40,000 U.S. women will lose their breast-cancer battles.
  • Other than lung cancer, breast cancer death rates in America are higher than those of any other cancer.

While these numbers are unnerving, ATRIO Health Plans — in support of October's designation as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month — wants women to know that they can proactively take steps to reduce their risk of becoming a breast-cancer statistic.

Risk-Reducing Recommendations

Although there's no foolproof strategy that guarantees breast-cancer prevention, these actions represent a woman's best defense.

  • Limit alcohol. Studies have shown that breast-cancer risks rise with high rates of alcohol consumption. Consequently, it's recommended that women limit themselves to one drink or less per day.
  • Don't smoke. Growing scientific evidence points to a link between smoking and breast-cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women.
  • Watch your weight. Studies additionally have shown a link between being overweight or obese and the development of breast cancer. This link strengthens when obesity occurs later in life, especially after menopause.
  • Move more. Physical activity is beneficial from numerous perspectives, including keeping weight in check, which — as previously pointed out —contributes to breast-cancer prevention. Based on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' guidelines, adults who have no physical limitations should log at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly. Doing strength-training exercises at least twice a week also is recommended.
  • Sit less. Evidence is mounting that time spent sitting, regardless of one's exercise regimen, increases the risk of developing cancer, particularly for women. For example, according to an American Cancer Society study, women who spent six hours or more per day sitting outside of work, had a 10 percent higher risk of developing invasive breast cancer compared with women who sat less than three hours a day.
  • Breast-feed. Some research suggests that breast-feeding potentially plays a role in breast-cancer prevention. Experts contend that this preventive potential increases the longer a woman breast-feeds.
  • Carefully consider hormone replacement therapy. Taking a combination of estrogen and progestin for an extended period of time increases the risk of developing breast cancer. As a result, women taking this hormone combination to combat menopausal symptoms should consult with their physician about alternatives. If it's determined that the benefits of short-term hormone therapy outweigh the risks, the lowest, effective dose should be prescribed.
  • Avoid radiation. Although additional research is needed, some studies have suggested a correlation between breast cancer and radiation exposure via medical-imaging equipment, such as computerized tomography, which uses high doses of radiation. Consequently, patients and physicians should only request these tests when absolutely necessary.
  • Consume a healthy diet. Experts suggest that a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy products can reduce the risk of breast cancer. These studies, however, did not isolate which specific vegetables, fruits, or other foods are most associated with prevention.

By integrating these steps into daily life not only will women reduce the risk of breast cancer, but they also will be healthier overall.