Breast cancer! Just reading those words can make many women worry. And that’s natural.
Nearly everyone knows someone touched by the disease.
But there is a lot of good news about breast cancer these days. Treatments keep getting better, and we know more than ever about ways to prevent the disease.
October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
The first step on the road to breast cancer prevention is breast cancer awareness. Breast Cancer Awareness Month happens annually in October and serves to educate women about the dangers of breast cancer. Breast Cancer Awareness Month also encourages them to get regular breast screenings for early detection of cancer.
These 5 simple steps can help lower the risk of breast cancer. Not everyone applies to every woman, but together they can have a big impact.
Keep Weight in Check
It’s easy to tune out because it gets said so often, but maintaining a healthy weight is an important goal for everyone. Being overweight can increase the risk of many different cancers, including breast cancer, especially after menopause.
Be Physically Active
Exercise is as close to a silver bullet for good health as there is, and women who are physically active for at least 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer. Regular exercise is also one of the best ways to help keep weight in check.
Eat Your Fruits & Vegetables and Limit your Alcohol
A healthy diet can help lower the risk of breast cancer. Try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and limit alcohol. While moderate drinking can be good for the heart in older adults, even low levels of drinking can increase the risk of breast cancer. And with other risks of alcohol, not drinking is the overall healthiest choice.
On top of its many other health risks, smoking causes at least 15 different cancers including breast cancer. If you smoke, try to quit as soon as possible. It’s almost never too late to get benefits. You can do it
Breastfeed, If Possible
Breastfeeding for a total of one year or more (combined for all children) lowers the risk of breast cancer. It also has great health benefits for the child. For breastfeeding information or support, contact your pediatrician, hospital, or local health department.
Avoid Menopausal Hormone Therapy
Menopausal hormone therapy shouldn’t be taken long-term to prevent chronic diseases. Studies show it has a mixed effect on health, increasing the risk of some diseases and lowering the risk of others. And both estrogen-only hormones and estrogen-plus-progestin hormones increase the risk of breast cancer. If women do take menopausal hormone therapy, it should be for the shortest time possible. The best person to talk to about the risks and benefits of menopausal hormone therapy is your doctor.
Tamoxifen and Raloxifene for Women at High Risk
Although not commonly thought of as a “healthy behavior,” taking the prescription drugs tamoxifen and raloxifene can significantly lower the risk of breast cancer in women at high risk of the disease.
Approved by the FDA for breast cancer prevention, these powerful drugs can have side effects, so they aren’t right for everyone. If you think you’re at high risk, talk to your doctor to see if tamoxifen or raloxifene may be right for you.