According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), not counting some kinds of skin cancers, in the United States, breast cancer is:
- The most common cancer in women, no matter your race or ethnicity
- The most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women
- The second most common cause of death from cancer among white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that simple lifestyle changes can go a long way in reducing your risk of breast cancer.
Below are four areas where making healthy choices can help keep you (and the girls) healthy and happy.
1. Keep weight in a healthy range
According to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Electronic Physician, higher-weight postmenopausal women who do not take hormone therapy have a higher risk of breast cancer. This is likely because of the drop in hormones after menopause.
A study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research noted that “there is a large body of evidence that obesity is associated with a 25 to 50% relative increase in the risk of breast cancer occurrence and death.”
Obesity is also associated with insulin resistance, which has been linked to “an increased risk of recurrence and death in women with early stage breast cancer.”
So, to reduce your risk of breast cancer, aim to keep your weight in a healthy range. If you’re concerned about hormones during menopause, talk to your doctor about hormone therapy.
2. Be active
A sedentary lifestyle is a significant risk factor for breast cancer. The research shows women can decrease their risk of breast cancer by engaging in regular exercise.
There are many reasons for this. Exercise can reduce obesity and insulin resistance, as mentioned above. In postmenopausal women, exercise and physical activity change estrogen, insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) in positive ways.
Regular physical activity of just about any kind can help reduce your risk.
3. Stop smoking
Tobacco use not only increases the risk of breast cancer but of other kinds of cancer as well. There’s a ton of evidence that smoking causes your body a lot of harm, and that quitting smoking can help reduce your breast cancer risk.
Quitting smoking is tough, but worth it. There are a lot of resources available online, at your doctor’s office, and through the American Heart Association to help you quit.
Research shows it takes an estimated 30 attempts to quit smoking before it sticks. So, the sooner you start trying to quit, the sooner it’ll finally happen!
4. Reduce alcohol consumption
Several large studies have shown that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer. And that the risk increases with higher amounts of regular alcohol use.
If you don’t drink alcohol, don’t start! And if you do, aim to have one drink or less per day