Breast Cancer Awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, which means there is no better time to discuss how you can protect yourself from this fatal and devastating disease. Despite the associate pink-colored ribbon and it being a predominantly female contracted type of cancer, men are certainly not immune. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control, in 2011, over 220,000 women and 2,078 men were diagnosed with Breast Cancer in the US. While some risk factors, such as family history, can’t be changed, there are still plenty of things you can start doing today for Breast Cancer prevention.

Here are the risk factors:

  • Female sex

  • The age at which you had your first period

  • Increasing age

  • Family history or genetics

  • BMI >25 or being overweight/obese

  • Sedentary lifestyle

  • Excessive alcohol consumption

  • Smoking tobacco

 

If you can identify with 2 or more of the risk factors, start making changes to your health today with these tips:

  • Keep your weight in control. Of course, this is not always easy when you have underlying medical issues such as hypothyroidism or PCOS, but make sure its at least a priority to keep your body fat levels as low as possible

  • Drink alcohol moderately. Women should not exceed 1 drink per day and men, no more than 2 drinks. 1 drink is defined as 1.5oz of spirits, 12oz beer, or 5oz red and white wine.

  • Avoid smoking. Smoking not only causes lung cancer, but is linked to breast cancer as well. If you are thinking about quitting and have a family history of breast cancer, there’s not better time to quit than today. Consult with your primary care doctor for smoking cessation programs and other available options.

  • Stay as active as possible. If you don’t have time to go to the gym or on a tight budget, exercise outside by walking to work instead of driving, taking a walk or using the stairs on your lunch breaks, or doing a 30-60 minute aerobic video at home in the morning or evening 5 days per week. When it comes to exercise, every little bit counts!

  • Choose breastfeeding over bottle feeding. Aside from the other long list of health benefits of breast feeding for both mother and child, studies show that breastfeeding may help with cancer prevention too.  The longer you do it the better protected you’ll be.

  • Be careful with hormone replacement therapy. Using HRT for more than 3-5 years is not recommended. If you’re using it for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor if there are safer treatment options. Often times, when women just simply make changes to their diet and exercise routine, menopausal symptoms decrease.

Nick VanMeter