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Five ways to lower your risk for breast cancer

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More than 330,000 men and women will be diagnosed with some form of breast cancer this year.

And while cancer does not discriminate, according to Dr.Ihtishaam Qazi, Mon Health Oncologist, there are certain factors that may increase or decrease your risk for developing breast cancer throughout your lifetime.

“It’s unfortunate, but there is no surefire way to prevent breast cancer,” says Dr. Qazi. “We can’t control for risk factors such as age, family history, or genetic predispositions, but what we can do is focus on the things we know may lower our chances of developing it.”

Five ways to lower your risk for breast cancer

Dr. Qazi suggests five steps women can take to lower their risk for breast cancer

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Excess body fat is a risk factor for developing a number of chronic diseases, including breast cancer. Being overweight or obese can cause chronic inflammation, increase estrogen production, and induce hormonal changes—all factors that may promote cancer growth. You can lower your risk by maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) through frequent exercise and a well-balanced, nutritious diet.
  2. Avoid or limit alcohol. Consuming alcohol has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer. Alcohol raises inflammation and estrogen levels throughout the body, which both increase breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society recommends women consume no more than one alcoholic beverage per day.
  3. Breastfeed. If you are able to, breastfeed your children. Not only is it a healthy choice for infants, but research also shows breastfeeding can help to lower the mother’s risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer. If you need breastfeeding support, learn more about breastfeeding resources at Mon Health or attend a breastfeeding class.
  4. Stay active. Research shows that frequent physical activity is linked with a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Dr. Qazi recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity per day, but more is even better. The key, he says, is to start small and work your way up to a sustainable exercise routine you enjoy.
  5. Avoid or limit the use of hormone replacement therapy. Hormone replacement therapy is often used to control uncomfortable symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and night sweats. Now, studies show that taking estrogen and progestin during post-menopause may increase the chances of developing breast cancer. If you’re looking for ways to control menopause symptoms, talk to your doctor about the risks, benefits, and alternatives of hormone replacement therapy to see if it’s the right choice for you.

Early detection saves lives.

Schedule your annual mammogram today at these locations: