Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. It affects 1 of every 8 American women. But there are several steps you can take to lower your cancer risk. Follow these healthy livings tips.
Stay lean after menopause
Obese women have a higher breast cancer risk after menopause. Researchers believe this is because obesity causes estrogen levels to rise.
To maintain a healthy weight, eat a plant-based diet and avoid foods with extra sugar or unhealthy fats.
“Studies show that even if you don’t lose weight, exercise helps lower your breast cancer risk by helping regulate your estrogen levels,” says Therese Bevers, M.D., MD Anderson Cancer Center Cancer Prevention Center medical
Aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Whether it’s biking, swimming or another activity, try to get your heart rate up.
Don’t forget strength-training. Try to add strength training exercises at least two days a week. It boosts your metabolism and helps build bone density, which can help prevent osteoporosis as well. Strength training won’t make you bulky or less flexible. Talk to your doctor or a personal trainer if you need help starting a strength training routine.
Studies show that drinking more than one alcoholic drink a day (12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of liquor) can increase your risk for breast cancer. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why. It could be because alcohol is an empty calorie and leads to unwanted weight gain. Or because alcohol can increase levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with breast cancer.
The risk associated with alcohol is still relatively low, but it’s important to make sure that exceeding that limit doesn’t become a routine.
“We recommend that women limit themselves to one drink or less a day,” Bevers says.
Choose to breastfeed
Research shows that mothers who breastfeed for six months lower their breast cancer risk. That’s because the hormone changes women experience while breastfeed reduces their exposure to estrogen. And mothers who breastfeed past the recommend six months can have additional benefits, too.
Talk to your doctor
Talking to your doctor can help you tell the difference between normal changes in your body and signs of breast cancer.
“Your doctor can help you determine if you need additional screening, earlier screening or genetic testing based on your individual risk factors,” Bevers says.