Ways to Prevent Breast Cancer
Think twice about HRT Although hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was once considered a cure-all for a woman in menopause, we now know better. Research has concluded that this supposed “anti-aging” treatment can increase your risk of breast cancer. If you have a family history of breast cancer or are concerned about whether or not you’re at risk, discuss this with your doctor before taking HRT and weight up the risks. There are natural remedies available to eliminate the symptoms of menopause, without the need for HRT, so the benefits don’t make up for its dangers.
Avoid toxins All forms of cancer are the result of mutations in your DNA, so it’s important to look at the environmental toxins you expose your body to and try to reduce this exposure.
Quit smoking – and alcohol Cigarettes and alcohol are your deadly enemies. Numerous studies show that any alcohol consumption can significantly increase your breast cancer risk, and research suggest that women who smoke have up to a 60-percent higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who have never smoked. According to one study, even passive smoking for as little as one hour a day can triple your breast-cancer risk.
Watch your weight Being overweight can increase the production of estrogen from fat cells, which in turn increases the risk of breast cancer. However, it’s not just what you weight that impacts your likelihood of developing breast cancer, but also where you put on weight. If you’re apple-shaped (you carry weight around your waist), you’re at a higher risk than a woman who is pear-shaped (with weight around her hips). To check whether you could be at a higher risk, measure your waist and hips and divide the waist measurement by the hip. If the resulting figure is more than 0.8, you have too much fat sitting around the middle of your body. This may increase the levels of estrogen in your system and consequently increase your risk of developing breast cancer. You need then to take steps to reduce that fat around the middle by following a healthy diet and exercising regularly (between three and five times a week), combining aerobic exercise with strengthening and toning.
Find time to relax Stress affects the way your body produces hormones and the effectiveness of your immune system, so it’s not surprising that researchers have found links between stress and breast cancer. Give yourself 30 minutes to wind down each day.
Go out in the sun Manufactured by your body in response to sunlight, vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer because it helps prevent abnormal cells from multiplying. One study in 2006 suggests that “vitamin D supplementation could reduce cancer incidence and mortality … with few or no adverse effects”. Try to get out in the sun for approximately 15 minutes a day without any sunscreen (check the skin cosmetics you use, as most contain in-built sun protection factors that would block the sunlight from getting through). Obviously, there are issues with skin cancer here, so keep your exposure to short bursts and, if you’re worried, keep the sunscreen on, but also take vitamin D in supplement form . You can also boost your levels of vitamin D by eating oily fish and egg yolks.
Get up and move Regular exercise is essential in the fight to prevent breast cancer. Studies show that all types of exercise have a positive effect, lowering estrogen levels, and can cut the risk of breast cancer significantly. One study suggested that women who exercise for more than four hours a week have a 58 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer; and those who exercise between one and three hours a week have a 30 percent lower risk. Aim for between 30 minutes and one hour of moderate exercise daily, and don’t’ forget that housework and gardening count, too.
Breastfeed There are myriad reasons why best is best for your baby – but we now know that breastfeeding is best for you, too. Preliminary research indicates that the hormones your body release during breastfeeding cause a permanent, physical change in breast cells that can help protect them from the potentially cancer-inducing effects of estrogen.
Check your breasts Breast self-examination is the best method for detecting breast cancer in its earliest stages. The earlier you detect it, the greater the likelihood that you’ll be able to prevent it from developing. Ninety percent of malignant lumps are found by women who have examined themselves. Please check – at least once every month – your breasts.