By Jamell Andrews
While it is not possible to control all of the factors that contribute to the development of breast cancer such as age, genetics, and being female, it is possible to make choices that will put you at a much lower risk of developing the disease down the road.
Diet and Exercise
We have all heard it a million times before, but eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are two of the best things you can do for not only your overall health, but your breast health as well.
Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains should be the most important components of your diet, with an emphasis on keeping your diet low-fat as much as possible. In fact, research has shown that diets low in fat with limited red meat consumption may very well lower your risk of ever developing breast cancer.
Set a goal to consume no more than one alcoholic beverage per day, as alcohol leads to the creation of additional estrogen in the body, which is directly linked to increased breast cancer risk.
You should also strive to stay active throughout your life. Experts recommend 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity five days per week to help lower your risk of developing breast cancer. For many of us, trying to incorporate exercise into our already hectic schedules five days a week is a pretty tall order, so the key is in adopting a healthier attitude overall.
For example, if we start to look at exercise as an integral part of our ability to maintain optimal health, it will gradually become a natural part of our daily routine rather than being something that we grudgingly try to squeeze in to our schedules.
During our younger years when we have a menstrual cycle, we have what are referred to as high-estrogen years. The longer we have high amounts of estrogen in our bodies, the greater risk we have of developing breast cancer. This, of course, includes taking hormones after we reach menopause, so it is best to avoid taking these supplements if at all possible.
In addition, there are a few other hormonal factors that play a role in the possible development of breast cancer.
- Women who have a full-term pregnancy before the age of 30 have a lowered risk of developing breast cancer.
- Women who breast-feed for longer than 12 months, or who breast-feed several children, seem to have a slightly lowered risk of developing breast cancer.
- Keep your weight at a healthy, even level with few major fluctuations. Having extra fat cells causes us to make more estrogen; yet another motivation for incorporating regular exercise into our weekly routines!
For women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer, there are medications that can be prescribed to help prevent it. These drugs work by blocking the effects of hormones on breast cancer cells, and there are currently two of these drugs that have been approved by the FDA: tamoxifen and raloxifene.
If you are a high-risk candidate for developing breast cancer, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks associated with these types of medications so that you can determine if one of them may be right for you.