Can Breast Cancer be Prevented?
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is always an ideal approach, but breast cancer is never the fault of the individual. A balanced diet, a lifestyle that includes abstaining from smoking and drinking alcohol in excess and regular exercise are all ways to stay healthy, but none will guarantee a woman or man will not get breast cancer.
Are there Risk Factors for Breast Cancer?
BreastCancer.org notes that there are factors a woman or man can control that might lessen their risk for breast cancer. Those risks include:
- Weight. Post-menopausal women in particular can reduce their risk of breast cancer by maintaining a healthy weight. Fat tissue is the body's main source of estrogen after menopause, and having more fat tissue means higher estrogen levels, which increases breast cancer risk.
- Diet. Many cancers are linked to diet, but studies have yet to show for certain which types of foods increase the risk for breast cancer. In general, it's good to restrict sources of red meat and other animal fats, such as fats from dairy products. Some studies have shown that eating a lot of red and/or processed meats is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. Eating a diet low in fat and rich in fruits and vegetables is often recommended to reduce cancer risk.
- Exercise. The American Cancer Society recommends engaging in 45-60 minutes of physical exercise 5 or more days per week, as evidence continues to mount that exercise can reduce breast cancer risk
- Alcohol and smoking. Alcohol limits the liver's ability to control blood levels of estrogen, which can increase risk of breast cancer. Similarly, smoking has been associated with a small increase in breast cancer risk.
BreastCancer.org also notes additional risk factors for breast cancer can include recent oral contraceptive use, stress and anxiety and exposure to estrogen.
While all of the mentioned risk factors are within an individuals control, there are a host of additional factors beyond a person's control that can increase risk of breast cancer. These factors include age, family history, personal history, and race among others.
Remember, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Join a group in your community and give anyway you can. Some of the things you can do, donate time to your local hospital or cancer support group, run in a race for a loved one or friend, donate old wigs or hats and scarves for cancer patients that can't afford them (contact your hospital and they will know who you should get in touch with) and you can also donate to the Cancer group of your choice.
Stay health and support Breast Cancer Awareness!