October 3, 2022
There are many things that can increase your breast cancer risk; likewise, there are many things that can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. A slight change in your lifestyle can significantly alter your breast cancer risk.
On the internet, you can see numerous searches on how to prevent breast cancer, the best foods for breast cancer prevention, the best supplements for breast cancer prevention, etc. This simply means that more and more people want to know about the best ways to prevent breast cancer. Since it is breast cancer awareness month this October, there can be no better time than now to talk about breast cancer prevention.
Before anything, it is important to know that no cancer is 100% preventable, as it can also be caused by some non-controllable factors like age, gender, genetic disorders, previous cancer treatments, etc. However, you can surely reduce its risk with some preventive measures.
Here, we have come up with not just one but ten best ways to reduce your breast cancer risk:
1. Healthy Eating Can Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk Dramatically
If you are in search of the best breast cancer prevention diet, here is something you should know. There is no such thing. However, some food habits can improve your overall health, strengthen your immune system, and lower your chance of breast cancer.
A diet that comprises balanced quantities of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants) can help reduce your cancer risk.
Consider filling your diet with fruits, vegetables, calcium sources, vitamin D sources, and antioxidants.
Most importantly, you should avoid consuming foods that can lead to obesity. Some foods that you should cut off to reduce your breast cancer risk include processed foods, sugary foods, red meat, etc.
2. Exercise – Not Just to Stay Fit, But to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk
Studies show that regular exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer. It is also found to reduce the risk of recurrence in breast cancer patients who have finished their treatment.
It is believed that exercising can lower certain serum hormone levels and reduce inflammation, which can lessen the chances of breast cancer development.
It also prevents obesity, which is strongly associated with breast cancer development in women.
3. Your Weight Could Also Decide Your Breast Cancer Risk
Obesity and breast cancer have an interesting link. Excess fat tissue in the body can raise estrogen levels, which in turn can increase the risk of developing breast cancer. In addition, women who are overweight typically have higher insulin levels. Some cancers, especially breast cancer, are associated with higher insulin levels as well.
A combination of healthy eating and regular exercise can dramatically reduce the risk of obesity and, thereby, breast cancer.
4. Quitting Tobacco Can Bring Down Your Risk of Getting Breast Cancer
The connection between tobacco and cancer is no news. However, many think that tobacco only causes lung cancer. However, this is not true. The carcinogens present in tobacco are found to increase the risk of 15 types of cancer, and breast cancer is one of them.
Smoking also reduces the chances of survival in breast cancer patients. Therefore, it is important to quit tobacco consumption, or better, never pick it up.
5. Regulating Your Alcohol Intake is Imperative to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk
According to 100+ studies, alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels, is found to increase breast cancer risk in women.
Alcohol consumption can increase the body’s estrogen levels, which in turn can increase breast cancer risk. You could significantly lower your risk of breast cancer by avoiding or limiting your alcohol consumption.
6. Pregnancy Could Also Have a Say When it Comes to Your Breast Cancer Risk
Studies show that pregnancy influences the chances of a woman developing breast cancer. Women who become pregnant and have children before age 30 have a decreased risk of developing breast cancer in later life. However, any pregnancy after age 30 is found to increase the risk of breast cancer.
Pregnancy alters the breasts significantly, which may account for the protective effect on younger women. It is believed that breast cells are less likely to multiply and become tumours in these women.
7. Breastfeeding Could be Another Way to Cut Down Your Breast Cancer Risk
Studies have found that breastfeeding can reduce breast cancer risk in women. However, the exact reason for this is not known.
One possibility could be that a woman’s hormonal changes during nursing could delay the return of her periods. Her lifelong exposure to hormones like estrogen, which are associated with an elevated risk of breast and ovarian cancer, is decreased as a result.
8. Know About How Birth Control Pills and Hormone Replacement Therapies Control Your Breast Cancer Risk
Studies show birth control pills or hormonal contraceptives can slightly increase the risk of breast cancer.
Hormone replacement therapy taken to ease menopause symptoms is also found to increase breast cancer risk. The risk also depends on the duration of the therapy.
For more information on the breast cancer risk associated with birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, you should talk to your gynaecologist and promptly follow their instructions.
9. Regular Screening Can Put You a Step Ahead of Breast Cancer
Self-breast examination, clinical breast examination, and mammography are different screening methods available for the early detection of breast cancer.
A self-breast examination should be performed every month to look for any abnormal signs, such as the presence of a lump, change in the size, change in the colour and texture of breast skin, abnormal discharge from nipples, and breast pain. Not all lumps are cancerous; however, a proper examination by a physician is necessary to be sure.
Mammography is a safe and effective screening tool for breast cancer. During mammography, your breast tissue is examined layer by layer using X-ray beams. This procedure helps in catching breast cancer even before it starts showing symptoms.
10. Know What to Do When You Have a Family History of Breast Cancer
About 5-10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary. If you are someone with a family history of breast cancer, you must be extra careful about following the already suggested measures. Along with a healthier lifestyle and regular screening in place, it is also important to consider genetic counselling and genetic testing.
Your doctor may recommend genetic counselling if you have a personal or family history of breast cancer. Genetic counsellors can help you with appropriate resources and information and can help you make informed decisions when it comes to your breast health.
Genetic testing involves a simple test where your blood or saliva sample is tested to look for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. The presence of mutated BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can indicate that you are predisposed to breast cancer. However, this does not mean you will get breast cancer – it only increases your chances of getting breast cancer.
Based on the results, the genetic counsellors may also guide you on various options available to reduce your breast cancer risk, different screening tests available for early detection, and treatment options to consider, if you are already diagnosed with breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in India. It is also one of the leading causes of death in Indian women. So, it is not surprising that most women fear being diagnosed with breast cancer and experience immense distress during treatment. However, early breast cancer detection and timely breast cancer treatment can be effective in managing breast cancer effectively.
Apart from following the right measures to reduce your cancer risk, being mindful of breast cancer symptoms, choosing the best cancer hospital, and consulting the right cancer specialist for your breast cancer treatment are a few things you can do in order to put yourself ahead of breast cancer.