Developing breast cancer is a valid fear for many women, yet adopting several healthy habits can greatly reduce the risk of facing such a diagnosis.
One in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. According to the American Cancer Society, 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year, and 40,610 women will die from the disease.
Regular screening is encouraged, and there are additional measures women can take on their own in order to lower their breast cancer risk.
- No smoking. According to The New York Times, “A decades-long study conducted among 102,098 women in Norway and Sweden found that, compared with nonsmokers, those who smoked 10 or more cigarettes a day for 20 or more years had a third higher risk of developing invasive breast cancer, and girls who started smoking before age 15 were nearly 50 percent more likely to get breast cancer.”
- Control your weight. The higher a woman’s body mass index, the more likely she is to develop breast cancer—especially if excess weight is carried around the waist. According to Dr. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “Probably the single most important thing women can do to reduce their risk of breast cancer is to avoid weight gain in adult life.” Being overweight also reduces a woman’s chances of surviving a breast cancer diagnosis.
- Manage your alcohol intake. The New York Times reports that “Women who consume two to five drinks a day are 40 percent more likely to get breast cancer than nondrinkers. In fact, just one drink a day can raise a woman’s cancer risk by about 7 percent.”
- Watch your diet. Be certain to consume plenty of fiber-rich vegetables, fruits and whole grains, minimize your intake of protein foods like red meat that are rich in saturated fats, and limit sugar-sweetened foods and drinks.
- Get regular exercise. Physical activity can help prevent breast cancer as well as other chronic illnesses, and assist in the maintenance of a healthy body weight. Taking brisk walks can be effective. Aim for an hour a day, although just 30 minutes of activity can be beneficial.
H/T: The New York Times
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