In the back of every woman’s mind is the fear of getting breast cancer. This disease will affect 1 in 8 women in their lifetime. The biggest risk factor apart from being a woman is advancing age. Only 5-10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary. Whatever a woman can do to reduce breast cancer risk is vitally important.
There is no guarantee a woman can keep herself breast cancer free but research suggests that with lifestyle changes, up to 50% of cancers can be prevented. To reduce breast cancer risk women can adopt a number of lifestyle changes. Breast cancer awareness and prevention need to become an everyday part of life.
Exercise is good way to reduce breast cancer risk because may reduce certain hormonal levels, estrogen in particular. Physical activity also improves the immune system, allowing the bodies to more effectively fight off any invasion of cancer cells. Since being overweight is a risk factor for breast cancer, exercise also can help with weight loss. This is especially true if you are overweight after menopause since fat cells store estrogen. Regular moderate exercise like a brisk walk 20-30 minutes per day can help to minimize breast cancer risk.
Adopting a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables doesn’t offer direct protection against breast cancer, but it can go a long way to maintaining a healthy weight, a key factor in breast cancer defense. Certain vitamins have been studied to determine their relationship to breast cancer. Vitamin D has been studied since emerging research suggests an association between a higher risk of breast cancer and low levels of vitamin D. In order to determine your levels of vitamin D you should request a simple blood test from your doctor which will show your vitamin D serum levels. It is recommended that your serum level be between 40-60 ng/ml (nanograms/milliliter). If you are vitamin D deficient, the best source for increasing your levels is daily exposure to sunlight. Sunlight triggers the inactive form of vitamin D found in our bodies. If however you wear sunscreen, cover up, are dark skinned or live north of the equator, getting adequate sunshine may be a challenge. In these cases daily supplementation with vitamin D3 is the next best thing. Current guidelines for the appropriate amount of vitamin D are thought to be too low, so check with your doctor first. Also if you are going to take a vitamin D supplement, experts agree that D3 is the best form, not D2
If at all possible, combine daily sun exposure and exercise with a brisk walk outdoors and you could be decreasing your risk for breast cancer in 30 minutes/day.
Mammograms are still being recommended for women as an important tool is early diagnosis, but there is a lot of debate around when to begin mammograms, how often women should have one. and whether the benefits outweigh the risks. For women it is important to become educated. According to the Cochrane Collaboration, (an international, non-profit, organization, established to ensure that up-to-date, accurate information about the effects of healthcare interventions is readily available worldwide.) “If 2000 women are screened regularly for 10 years, one will benefit from the screening, as she will avoid dying from breast cancer”.
If women want to effectively reduce breast cancer risk, become educated on the subject, make lifestyle changes that have been proven to reduce risk and make these changes part of your everyday life. . Breast cancer prevention is the best tool you have.