The Breast Protection: What YOU Can Do
All women run the risk of developing breast cancer, but you can minimize your chances by staying informed and making the right lifestyle choices.
You may not be able to control factors such as age and genetic makeup, but you can change your diet and exercise habits to further reduce the risk. Read on for what you can do, starting now:
Manage Your Weight
A clear link has been established between obesity and breast cancer, so find the appropriate weight for your age and height, and maintain it. Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) here.
Regular exercise can help you maintain that healthy weight, so set aside at least 30 minutes each day for physical activity.
Cut The Fat
Research has found a slight decrease in breast cancer risk for women on low-fat diets. Limiting your fat intake can also help control your weight. No more than 35 percent of your daily calories should come from fat, and be sure to reduce your consumption of foods high in saturated fat. Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, to maintain your weight.
British researchers have found an increase in breast cancer for women who consume one drink a day, so either eliminate alcohol altogether or restrict yourself to an occasional glass, now and then.
Your breast cancer risk is linked to the amount of estrogen you’re exposed to over your lifetime. Phytoestrogens, which are naturally occurring compounds, lower circulating estrogens in your body. Flaxseed contains a high level of a phytoestrogen called “lignan”, which seems to decrease estrogen production and could even inhibit the development of some breast cancers. So consider adding flaxseed to your morning cereal, muffins, and breads.
Research has identified a link between smoking and breast cancer-and that risk increases with the number of years a woman smokes. An American study found that women who smoked a pack a day for eleven years had a 30 to 40 percent increased risk compared to women who did not smoke. If you don’t smoke, then don’t start, and if you do smoke, stop-with the assistance of your doctor.
Take Matters Into Your Own Hands
You may already know this, but it bears repeating: check your breasts. Get to know their texture and density, so that you can identify any changes. Click here for how to perform this vital test. Be sure to have your doctor check your breasts for you during your annual check up. Lastly, women 40 years and over should begin yearly mammograms.