October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month – dedicated to increasing the awareness of early detection of breast cancer and early treatment to save lives.
Approximately 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the United States alone. As recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, approximately 40% of breast cancers among postmenopausal women may be prevented through lifestyle changes.
Research has recently identified the association between diet, exercise, and other modifiable lifestyle choices and the risks for certain types of cancer. There is no surefire way to prevent breast cancer, yet following these tips can significantly reduce your risk and improve your overall health:
- Strive for a healthy weight
- Eat healthy: Choose more whole grains, fruits, and veggies and less red meat. Have a registered dietitian review your diet to see where improvements can be made
- Exercise more
- If you drink alcohol, consume in moderation: Even a drink or two a day of alcohol may raise the risk of the most common type of breast tumors.
- Limit intake of animal fat, including red meat, dairy, and butter
- Reduce exposure to estrogen: Unwanted sources include extra weight, alcohol, and red meat. Hormone Replacement Therapy – avoid long-term, high-dose hormones after menopause.
- Perform monthly breast self-exams
- Reduce stress to strengthen your immune system
- Stop smoking
- Visit your doctor annually and increase your chances for early detection
- Annual breast exams for women over 20, and
- Annual mammograms for women over 40
- Request an ultrasound or MRI if you have dense breasts, or if you felt a lump, but nothing showed up on the mammogram