It’s not unusual to be worried about breast cancer. The disease ranks as the most common cancer diagnosed in American women, who have a 12.5% risk of developing breast cancer during an average lifetime of about 80 years.
While there are some risk factors that you can’t improve, such as your family history, there are lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce your chances of having this disease.
At The Association for Women’s Health Care, our OB/GYNs specialize in helping women deal with all aspects of breast cancer, including prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
We can help you reduce your risk with an individualized plan based on a thorough examination and review of your family history, reproductive history, and medical condition.
While every woman’s circumstances are different, changing the following modifiable risk factors can help anyone reduce their risk of breast cancer.
Carrying extra body weight is linked with an increased risk of breast cancer, especially for post-menopausal women. Women who gain more than 22 pounds after menopause have an 18% higher risk of breast cancer.
After menopause, your ovaries stop producing estrogen. As a result, fat tissue becomes the body’s main source of estrogen. When you’re overweight, you’re likely to have more fat tissue and higher estrogen levels, which can contribute to the growth of more breast cancer cells.
Exercise plays a key role in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, which is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.
Exercise consumes and regulates blood sugar. It also helps limit blood levels of insulin growth factor, a hormone that can affect the growth and behavior of breast cells.
Eating a healthy diet supports your efforts to control your weight. It can also help you maintain the energy you need to remain physically active.
Follow these diet guidelines to reduce your risk of breast cancer:
The correlation between alcohol and breast cancer seems related to the fact that alcohol can increase estrogen levels, which is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer.
Drinking just one alcoholic beverage daily produces an increase in your risk of breast cancer. Consuming more than one drink can produce a more significant effect.
Knowing your family history can help us recommend appropriate screening and/or genetic testing. It also helps you make smart lifestyle choices to reduce your risk.
Your risk for breast cancer is doubled if you have a mother, daughter, or sister diagnosed with breast cancer. Having more than one of these first-degree relatives diagnosed with breast cancer elevates your risk to five times above average.
If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, it may be linked to having inherited a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, which can lead to abnormal cell growth and increase your risk of breast cancer.
If you’re weighing hormone therapy to manage post-menopausal symptoms, consider the benefits of this treatment against your risk for breast cancer. As we mentioned previously, estrogen promotes the growth of breast cells, which increases your risk of breast cancer,
While hormone replacement therapy can help many women manage debilitating post-menopausal symptoms, it may increase your risk of breast cancer. Request the lowest possible dosage, and follow our recommendations for limiting the amount of time you remain on this course of therapy to reduce your risk.
Smoking is a risk factor for most types of cancers, including breast cancer. It may significantly increase the risk of breast cancer for women who have a family history of the disease and those who started smoking before age 17.
Learn more about the changes you can make to reduce your risk of breast cancer. Contact our Chicago or Northbrook, Illinois, office to arrange a consultation.