For so many women, there is no more dreaded disease than breast cancer. Breast cancer elicits fears related to loss of body image and sexuality, surgery, and death. As is the case for many cancers, the exact cause of breast cancer is not clearly known. Furthermore, there is certainly no cure for advanced disease, and there is no definitive method of preventing it.
Limited resource settings with weak health systems where breast cancer incidence is comparatively low and the majority of women are diagnosed at the end of stages have the option to implement early diagnosis programmes based on understanding of early signs and symptoms and prompt referral to diagnosis and treatment.
Avoid becoming overweight
Obesity enhances the risk of breast cancer after menopause, time of life when breast cancer most often occurs. Avoid gaining weight with time, and try to maintain a body-mass index under 25 (calculators can be obtained online).
Be physically active
Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, consequently, helps prevent breast cancer. For most healthy adults, a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.
Eat healthy to avoid tipping the scale
Embrace a diet high in vegetables and fruit and occasional in sugared drinks, refined carbohydrates and fatty foods. Eat lean protein such as fish or chicken breast and eat red meat in moderation, if at all. Eat whole grains. Choose vegetable oils over animal fats.
Know your family history
Having a first-degree relative (mother or sister) with breast cancer raises your risk of someday getting it too. Being aware of your history could change your doctor’s recommendations for screening, so speak with your family now. However, most breast cancer occurs in women without a family history, so that isn’t a free pass.
Maintain a healthy weight
Eating poorly along with a lack of exercise can lead to added pounds, which could in term fuel estrogen levels in the body, a known risk factor which are more common forms of breast cancer.
Research suggests that long-term smoking is associated with increased risk of breast cancer in some women.
Drink little or no alcohol
Alcohol use is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Women should limit intake to a maximum of one drink per day, regardless of the type of alcohol.
Avoid hormone replacement therapy
Menopausal hormone therapy increases risk for breast cancer. If you must take hormones to handle menopausal symptoms, avoid those that contain progesterone and limit their use to under three years. “Bioidentical hormones” and hormonal creams and gels aren’t any safer than prescription hormones and should also be avoided.
Get regular breast cancer screenings
Follow your doctor or health care provider’s recommendations to determine what type of screening you’ll need and how often you need it.
Check in with your doctor often to stay on top of your breast cancer risk factors. Keep reading up on all of the latest research and studies which are being done right now. Take a proactive approach without only your health, but also the health of those that you care about. Volunteer at breast cancer fundraisers and get to know survivors. Being active, healthy and having a positive mental outlook are some of the most important steps you can take to stay healthy.