Today, 1 in 8 American women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime. Your chances of developing breast cancer can increase based on certain risk factors like age and family history. However, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to decrease your risk of breast cancer and maintain an overall healthy wellbeing.
1. Avoid alcohol
Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol can cause numerous health problems, including an increased risk of developing breast cancer. While an occasional glass of wine won’t dramatically increase your breast cancer risk, women who consume 2-3 alcoholic drinks per day are at a 20 percent higher risk than women who do not drink alcohol. The American Cancer Society recommends limiting your alcohol intake to one drink per day or less.
2. Don’t smoke
From lung cancer to heart disease, smoking is the leading factor in many fatal diseases. Smoking can also increase your chances of developing breast cancer, especially if you are a postmenopausal woman. Smoking has been known to cause complications during breast cancer treatment including blood clots and lung damage. If you are a smoker, regardless of your age, now is a great time to quit. For advice and support on living a tobacco-free life, check out the Freedom From Smoking program to find upcoming start dates and contact information, or join the Smoking Cessation Support Group sponsored by North Baldwin Rural Health Network.
3. Maintain a healthy weight.
Becoming overweight or obese can lead to numerous health problems including high blood pressure and heart disease. Obesity has also been found to increase the risk of breast cancer, and this risk increases in obese women after menopause. Maintaining a healthy weight throughout life is the best way to decrease your risk a multitude of diseases, including breast cancer. If you’re concerned about your weight, talk to your doctor today about how you can make healthier lifestyle choices.
4. Remain active, exercise regularly.
Maintaining a healthy exercise routine is not only rewarding and enjoyable, but it can also help you maintain a healthy body weight, which can help decrease your risk of breast cancer. There are plenty of small changes you can make in your daily life to increase your physical activity level, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking your car farther away from your destination. Remaining physically active – even if it’s just walking 30 minutes per day – may lower your breast cancer risk by about 3 percent.
Breastfeeding has many health benefits for both infant and mother. It has also been proven to decrease a woman’s breast cancer risk. Researchers have found that for every 12 months a woman breastfeeds, her risk of breast cancer decreases by 4.3 percent. Many breastfeeding mothers experience fewer menstrual periods, which reduces a woman’s lifetime exposure to estrogen.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with breast cancer, we encourage you to attend our Breast Cancer Support Groups scheduled for the first and second Thursdays each month in Mobile and Fairhope. We would also love to see you at our Survivor’s Soirée on October 12 in Fairhope and October 19 in Mobile. Call 251-435-CARE (2273) for more information or to reserve a seat.