Simple Life Changes to Prevent Breast Cancer
January 9, 2024
Being diagnosed with cancer is life-changing, and understandably, we all want to minimize our risk to the greatest possible extent. Experts are still working to understand how certain factors shape our individual cancer risk, but so far, we know that while certain factors like genetics are beyond our control to change, there are other lifestyle factors that we can modify to reduce our risk.
Here are some simple life changes you can make to help prevent breast cancer in particular.
Breast Cancer Prevention Strategies
Women who are frequently sedentary have a higher risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who are physically active. The general recommended amount of physical activity for adults is 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous workouts. Aim to break up this amount of time across several days each week and find an exercise you enjoy in order to stick with it. Exercise classes, cycling, swimming, weight lifting, and team sports are all options to consider, but it doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. The simplest way to be physically active? Get out and walk!
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Women who are overweight or obese, especially after menopause, also have an increased risk for breast cancer. While the hormonal changes that come with menopause can make it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight, being overweight or obese isn’t inevitable.
In addition to staying active, you can reach and maintain a healthy weight by reducing your caloric intake, as your body requires fewer calories as you age. Instead of fretting over eliminating things from your diet, however, consider which lower-calorie, nutrient-dense foods you could substitute for other choices that may be nutritionally lacking. Fibrous vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates will all keep you full longer without adding in excess calories.
Avoid Tobacco & Limit Alcohol
Smoking and drinking alcohol have been linked to an increased risk for breast cancer, among other types of cancer. If you choose to drink, stick to no more than one drink a day, but know that a better option for your overall health and cancer risk profile is to avoid it altogether. Continue avoiding tobacco products if you don’t smoke, and if you do, develop a plan to quit.
For women with a higher-than-average risk of breast cancer, medications may be recommended to block estrogen, a hormone that can power breast cancer cells. While results have varied across studies, the average risk reduction when using estrogen blockers is 40%. Doctors will help you consider factors such as family and personal medical history, age, and lifestyle factors to determine the potential benefits.
A final but important part of cancer prevention is proactively managing your overall health. Preventative care, which encompasses routine checkups, screenings, and immunizations, can help support wellness and help you and your doctor stay aligned about any physical changes you experience that may need addressing. One screening in particular to stay on top of is your routine mammogram. While this x-ray imaging of breast tissue can’t prevent breast cancer, it can help to detect it at an earlier stage, when there are more successful treatment options.
For both general and specialized medical care through every phase of life, turn to Morgan Medical Center. Find out more about our women’s health department, or schedule an appointment by calling 706-438-1275.