While there’s no 100%-guaranteed way to keep yourself from getting breast cancer (yet!), there are a number of things you can do to lower your breast cancer risk. This is because lifestyle choices bear considerable weight on your chances of getting breast or other types of cancer.
Assess your personal breast cancer risk
Schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN and your healthcare provider can help you assess your breast cancer risk based on your family and personal medical history. Genetic screening can also play a role in determining your risk. If it turns out you have a higher-than-average risk for breast cancer, your physician will work with you minimize your chances of getting a positive diagnosis.
While lifestyle changes are always our first, go-to preventative treatment, women with a notably high risk may be candidates for prescription medications, like tamoxifen, raloxifene or aromatase inhibitors, that can lower the chances of breast cancer.
Keep your healthy weight target in sight
Studies show that gaining weight – and being overweight – during and after menopause increase your chances of developing breast cancer. Menopause slows down your metabolism, making weight management more challenging.
However, working to consume mostly healthy food choices, without excess, and exercising regularly go a long way towards keeping your healthy weight target in sight and attainable! And, along those lines, there’s even evidence that what you eat may delay menopause…
Consider adhering to a Mediterranean or anti-inflammatory diet
There is some evidence that women who largely adhere to Mediterranean diets or other, similar anti-inflammatory diets, have lower rates of breast cancer (these diets can also help to control PMS, PCOS and endometriosis symptoms). These diets are largely focused on plant-based foods and healthy fats and are also successful in helping with weight management.
Be smart about hormone therapies
It turns out that various types of breast cancer grow in the presence of estrogen. As a result, the medical arena is re-thinking the way we view hormone therapy, particularly as it relates to menopause. Be very careful and weight all the options before signing up for hormone therapy. In almost all cases, natural, menopause-related symptoms will fade over time without any necessary hormone replacement.
Visit our post, 5 Ways to Ease Menopause Symptoms Naturally, if you’re experiencing challenging symptoms of perimenopause or menopause.
Breastfeed if it’s an option for you
There are an infinite number of benefits to breastfeeding for your baby; but we’ve learned there is a major benefit for you as well. Women who breastfeed for at least a few months postpartum seem to have lower rates of breast cancer. Read, 5 Reasons Breastfeeding is Best, for more information about the health benefits of breastfeeding.
If you’re pregnant and/or planning to breastfeed in the near future, we also recommend bookmarking, Breastfeeding Tips for New Mothers.
Limit your alcohol intake and quit smoking
As much as you may enjoy your evening glasses of wine or a favorite cocktail, the links between alcohol and breast cancer rates (not to mention other health conditions) is undeniable. Experts recommend women keep their average daily consumption to one alcoholic drink. According to cancer.org., one drink “…is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (hard liquor).”
When it comes to smoking, there is no such thing as moderation. Smoking is a leading risk factor for cancer and your healthcare provider will do everything s/he can to support you in your decision to quit.
Contact Overlake OB/GYN to schedule a consultation to determine your breast cancer risk. We’ll work with you to create a proactive, preventative lifestyle plan that helps to keep you cancer-free.