If you are worried about getting breast cancer, you might be just wondering if there are any measures in order to prevent breast cancer. Few risk factors, like family history, cannot be changed. But, there are lifestyle modifications you can make to decrease your risk to develop breast cancer.

1. Keep Weight in Check

Maintaining a healthy weight is a vital goal for everyone. Being overweight can be one of the cause to develop many different types of cancers, including breast cancer, particularly after menopause.

2. Be Physically Active

Regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, which helps to avoid breast cancer and one of the best ways to help keep weight in check. Women who are physically active for at least 30 minutes a day have a reduced risk of breast cancer.

3. Limit Alcohol Use

A healthy diet can aid in reducing the risk of breast cancer. Try to eat a lot of vegetable and fruits and keep alcohol at lower or moderate levels (a drink a day or under). Although moderate drinking can be good for the heart in older adults, even decreased levels of intake can raise the risk of breast cancer.  If you do not have the habit of drinking, then no need to start it. However, if you drink moderately, there’s likely no reason to stop. But, if your alcohol intake is more, then it is time to cut down or quit.

4. Don’t Smoke

Smokers and non-smokers understand the fact that how unhealthy smoking is. Smoking lowers the quality of life and increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and at least 15 cancers which also included breast cancer. Smoking also causes bad breath and teeth, and wrinkles. These are some of the reasons why you should quit smoking.

5. If Possible, Breastfeed

Breastfeeding for a complete one year or more (combined for all children) decreases the risk of breast cancer. It also has great health advantages for the child.

6. Avoid Post-Menopausal Hormones

Post-menopausal hormones should not be taken for the long term in order to prevent chronic diseases, like heart disease and osteoporosis. Studies indicate they have a mixed effect on health, raising the risk of some diseases and decreasing the risk of others, and both estrogen-plus-progestin hormones and estrogen-only hormones raise the risk of breast cancer. If it is really necessary for a women to take post-menopausal hormones, then it should be for very short time if possible. Your doctor is the best person to talk to about the benefits and risks of post-menopausal hormones.

7. Tamoxifen and Raloxifene for Women at High Risk

While not commonly thought of as a “healthy behaviour,” taking the recommended drugs tamoxifen and raloxifene can considerably reduce the risk of breast cancer in a woman at high risk of the disease. Approved by the FDA for breast cancer prevention, these potent drugs can have side effects, so they are not right for everybody. If you think you are at high risk, talk to your physician to see if tamoxifen or raloxifene may be suitable for you.

8. Avoid Exposure to Radiation and Environmental Pollution

Medical-imaging techniques, like computerized tomography, utilizes high doses of radiation. While more studies are needed, some research recommends an association between breast cancer and cumulative exposure to radiation over your lifetime. Decrease your exposure by having such tests only when absolutely needed.

Can a Healthy Diet Prevent Breast Cancer?

Eating a healthy diet might reduce your risk of some types of cancer, as well as diabetes, stroke and heart disease. For example, women who eat a Mediterranean diet added with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts might have a decreased risk of breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet emphases typically on plant-based foods, like fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts. People who follow the Mediterranean diet opt for healthy fats, like olive oil, over butter and eat fish as a substitute for red meat. Keeping a healthy weight also is a main factor in breast cancer prevention.

Is there an Association between Birth Control Pills and Breast Cancer?

There is certain evidence that hormonal contraception, which comprises IUDs and birth control pills that release hormones, raises the risk of breast cancer. However, the risk is measured very small, and it reduces after you stop using hormonal contraceptives.

A recent study that revealed a link between breast cancer and hormonal contraceptive use determined one additional breast cancer could be expected for every 7,690 women who use hormonal contraception for at least one year.

Talk to your doctor regarding your contraceptive choices. Also study the benefits of hormonal contraception, like preventing unwanted pregnancy, controlling menstrual bleeding, and decreasing the risk of other cancers, comprising ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer.

Find Out Your Family History

Women with a strong family history of cancer can take extraordinary steps to protect themselves, so it is vital for women to know their family history. You may be at high risk of breast cancer if you have a sister or mother who developed ovarian or breast (particularly at an early age) or if you have multiple family members who developed ovarian, breast, or prostate cancer. A genetic counsellor or doctor can help you recognize your family history of the disease.

Don’t Forget Screening

Although there is some controversy, studies show that breast cancer screening with mammography can save lives. It does not aid in preventing cancer, but it can definitely help find cancer early when it is under the most treatable stage. For most women, regular mammograms can begin at age 40, however, particular recommendations differ by risk and age.

If you are age 40 – 44:

You can opt to begin yearly mammograms. It is vital to talk to a doctor about the risk and benefits of mammograms at these ages.

If you are age 45 – 54:

Mammograms are to be done every year.

If you are age 55 or over:

Mammograms should be done every other year. You can opt to continue to have them every year.

Clinical breast exams and self-exams are not suggested. However, you should know about your breasts and talk to your doctor right away if you notice any changes in how your breasts feel or look. It is advisable to discuss with your doctor to know more about the breast cancer treatment.

Bottom Line

Be cautious regarding breast cancer detection. If you notice any symptoms or changes in your breasts, like any skin changes or new lump, talk to your doctor. Moreover, ask your doctor when to start mammograms and other screenings with regards to your personal history.

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