Risk factors include anything that increases your risk of developing breast cancer. Many of the most important risk factors for breast cancer are beyond your control, such as age, family history, and medical history. However, there are some risk factors you can control, such as weight, physical activity, and alcohol consumption.
Avoid A High-Fat Diet
• Restrict sources of red meat and other animal fats (including dairy fat in cheese, milk, and ice cream).
• A low-fat diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, is generally recommended.
You should stop smoking. Research shows that smoking is associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer and can also increase complications from breast cancer treatment.
Exercise has many healthy benefits and research has shown that up to five hours of exercise each week may lower the risk of breast cancer. Over time, exercise may be able to lower the estrogen levels in your body, and less estrogen means less stimulation of breast cell growth, which is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. Exercise also can help boost the immune system, limit weight gain from chemotherapy, and help ease treatment side effects. The American Cancer Society recommends engaging in 45-60 minutes of physical exercise 5 or more days a week.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Women who are overweight have an increased risk of getting breast cancer after menopause. And being overweight can also increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence in women who have had previous breast cancer. Regular exercise can reduce fat in the body and help with weight loss. As we age, it’s harder to keep weight under control because our metabolism slows down and we tend to get less exercise. A low-fat, low-calorie diet and physical activity will help you control your weight.
Limit Alcohol Use
Studies have shown breast cancer risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Limiting your alcohol use helps your liver keep blood estrogen levels low which, in turn, helps reduce your risk. While some may choose not to stop drinking alcohol completely, limiting use to fewer than five alcoholic drinks a week may help.
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Breast Care Coordinator
RN, BSN, BHN-C
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