When a person diagnosed with cancer, the first question that comes to his mind is “Why me? What have I done to have cancer?”.
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in women. Although treatments have improved, prevention and early detection can have the greatest effect on reducing the burden of cancer in women, with an estimated 40% of cancers being potentially avoidable. In India, for every 2 women diagnosed newly with breast cancer, 1 woman dies. In India, it is the most common cancer in women and accounts for 14% of all cancers.
There are few risk factors that increases your chances of getting breast cancer. But the best thing is, some risk factors can be controlled and risk of breast cancer can be lowered. Remember, having a risk factor does not necessarily mean you will get the disease/cancer.
Some simple lifestyle changes can create a big difference and helps to reduce your risk.
Here are some 8 most important LIFESTYLE-RELATED CHANGES TO lower your BREAST CANCER RISK
Regular exercise helps to maintain physical as well as mental health. It is recommended that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week (divided into 3 to 5 sittings).
Although it is not clear how and how much physical activity decreases breast cancer risk, there is growing evidence that it does reduce the risk of breast cancer occurrence by 20-40%. So it’s important to get regular physical activity. It’s recommended that adults get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week.
Weight and diet
Increased body weight increases your risk of breast cancer after menopause.
Pre-menopause, the ovaries are responsible for the production of estrogen. Fat tissue produces small estrogen. However, after menopause, when the ovaries stop, most of a woman’s estrogen is made from fat tissue – and hence being overweight or obese after menopause increases your chances of getting breast cancer.
Obesity also increases the risk for a variety of cancers including breast, colon cancer, endometrium, oesophagus, pancreas and kidney. Being obese can also increase the risk of cancer coming back (recurrence).
Therefore, it is very important to maintain a healthy a weight. Eat fresh, nutritious food, throughout your life. The food we eat is responsible for our health. A diet should rich in fruits, vegetables, calcium-rich dairy products containing a large amount of antioxidants and rich in vitamin D. Also, diet should contain low red and processed meats, as it can increases the risk of breast cancer. Foods laden with fat leads to weight gain and obesity.
Alcohol and tobacco
High consumption of alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
Therefore, It is better to completely avoid alcohol or at least reduce its consumption to one drink a day. The general recommendation is to limit yourself to less than one drink a day, as even small amounts increase risk.
Regular heavy smoking may increase the possibility of getting breast cancer.
The women who have their pregnancy at an early age before 30 with delivery on the due date have lower risk of breast cancer as compare to women who had no children or who had their first child after age 30.
The woman who breastfed is having lower risk as compared to those who don’t. The analysis shows that the woman who breastfed for at least 12 months decreases her risk of breast cancer by 4.3%. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of pre and post-menopausal breast cancer.
During breastfeeding, a woman goes through many hormonal changes that possibly delay their periods. This reduces woman’s exposure to hormones like estrogen, which is responsible for breast cancer cell growth. Breastfeeding also makes breast cells more resistant to mutations that may cause cancer.
Read: Does breastfeeding lowers your risk of developing breast cancer?
Use of birth control
The use of OCP after the age of 30 and for less than 5 years might not increase the risk of breast cancer. Current use may increase the risk for breast cancer which reduces back to normal within 10 years after stopping use.
Some birth control methods use hormones, which might increase breast cancer risk.
Things that might lower your risk:
- Reducing the number of years you are taking birth control pills.
- Choosing a different form of contraception. For example, a non-hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) is a reversible form of birth control that is not linked to breast cancer.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after menopause
Current or recent past users of hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. The longer the use, the higher the risk. The risk is more for combined HRT(estrogen + progesterone ) than estrogen-only HRT. The risk is more during current and recent use and reverts to average risk after 2 years of stopping HRT.
If you do decide to take HRT, ask if you can take a lower-dose formula and talk to your doctor about taking it for the shortest time possible.
Chemicals in the environment
Exposure to chemicals like personal care items, furniture, food packaging plastics, building materials, air pollutants, cosmetics can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Therefore, reduce your exposure to such chemicals as possible as you can.
If you seek more information, contact Dr. Sumit Shah (Onco surgeon in Pune) and get cancer related health information, ask questions, get second opinion, read patient testimonials or schedule an appointment.