While an exact cause for breast cancer is still unknown, certain lifestyle choices have been proven to put us at risk for the disease. Most types of breast cancer are estrogen-related. This is why many of the risk factors we can control involve keeping your estrogen levels low.
Risk Factors For Breast Cancer You Can Control
High Fat Diet: Healthy bodies need fat, but research suggests that eating a diet high in fat increases the risk of breast cancer. Keep your saturated fat intake to 20 grams or less per day and avoid trans fat completely.
Obesity: Fat cells in the body store high levels of estrogen, which increase the threat of breast cancer. Thus, maintaining a normal body weight is crucial component in decreasing your risk.
Exercise: 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day can help decrease your body fat percentage and the amount of estrogen in your body. It also strengthens your immune system, which enhances your body’s ability to recognize and eliminate early cancer cells.
Alcohol: Studies show that drinking alcohol—even just one drink per day—increases your risk for breast cancer. And it doesn’t matter what alcoholic drink you choose. They all impact your risk for developing breast cancer.
Smoking: Don’t do it. Smoking exposes the body to carcinogens and accelerates cancer tumor growth. Studies indicate that people who smoke during their teen years significantly increase their risk for breast cancer compared to people who don’t.
Late Pregnancy or No Pregnancy– Women who have children earlier in life have a reduced risk of breast cancer, compared to those who have children after age 35 or not at all.
Hormonal Contraceptives- Use of oral contraceptives and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUD), have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer.
Risk Factors For Breast Cancer You Cannot Control
We can empower ourselves and educate others with the knowledge of how these risk factors may affect our breast health:
- Family history
- Previous breast cancer history
- Breast density
- Abnormal or mutated genes
- Age at first menstruation/late menopause