October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to educate people on the vicious disease that is ranked the second most common cancer diagnosed in women. Although women over 50 are mostly diagnosed with breast cancer, younger women also find themselves being diagnosed. Not only that, but 1% of men are also diagnosed with the disease. This is why it is important to educate everyone on the preventative measures they can take to avoid diagnosis or halt progression.
1. Limit Alcohol Consumption
Women who consume more than one alcoholic beverage a day are found to have a higher risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. By eliminating or limiting alcohol consumption to one drink a day at most, you’ll greatly decrease your risk of developing breast cancer. One drink is classified by professionals as 5 oz of wine, 12 oz of beer, or 1.5 oz of 80 proof liquor.
2. Avoid Tobacco Products
There has been evidence to suggest that the use and exposure to tobacco products can increase your risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Avoiding tobacco products not only decreases the risk of developing breast cancer, but it can be one of the best things for your overall health in general.
3. Exercise Daily
Women who are overweight or obese before menopause are at a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Inversely, being overweight post-menopause significantly increases a woman’s risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Exercising before, during, and after menopause is encouraged, as weight perimenopause can be carried into post-menopause. It is recommended to engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day to maintain a healthy weight and decrease your risk of developing breast cancer.
4. Pregnancy & Breast Feeding
Women who have their first pregnancies later in life are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. There is also a similar risk in women who don’t breastfeed as well as in those who have never carried a child to full-term. Women who breastfeed consistently for the first six months have at least a 10% reduced risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer than women who do not.
5. Oral Contraceptives & Hormones
There is evidence to support that some forms of combination oral contraceptive pills increase the risk of breast cancer development. This is because the longer the body is exposed to estrogen and progesterone, two hormones naturally produced by the ovaries, the higher the risk of developing the disease. This is similar to when women receive hormone replacement therapies that include both estrogen and progesterone during menopause. The risk of breast cancer is increased when the hormone replacement is taken for five or more years. Avoiding oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy, or talking to your doctor to see your risk, can potentially decrease the risk of breast cancer development.
An estimated 252,710 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in a given year. It’s important to spread awareness and educate both women and men of all ages on the preventative measures they can take against the vicious disease.
While this article is by no means exhaustive, it is meant to spark awareness and consciousness of a terrible disease. Check yourself regularly, see if you may be genetically predisposed to breast cancer, and know that many of the same things you can do to improve your overall health, such as being careful what you put in your body and making sure to exercise regularly can also help fend off breast cancer and an astounding number of other diseases.
If you have any questions or concerns that you may be at risk of breast cancer, talk to your doctor right away. To stay up to date on similar health and safety news for you and your family, visit ConsumerSafety.org here.