October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We all know someone who has had to tackle this disease head on. As women, this is a topic that is never far from our thoughts. Even though some people have a greater risk of getting breast cancer (genetics), there are steps that every woman can take to reduce her risk. Below is a list of things you can do to reduce your risk:
- Limit alcohol – the more you drink, the greater the risk. If you must have a drink, limit yourself to no more than one a day.
- Control your weight – being overweight or obese is something that can easily be controlled.
- Get plenty of physical activity – this can help you maintain a healthy weight, thus reducing your risk. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate activity (i.e. walking or swimming) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (i.e. running, high impact aerobics) as well as at least two days of strength training. Be sure to check with your doctor if you are just starting an exercise program and always ease into it slowly.
- Breast-feed – it may play a role in prevention. The longer you do it, the better the protective benefits.
- Discontinue hormone therapy – long-term combination therapy increases your risk. Non-hormonal options such as physical activity may help with menopausal symptoms.
- Avoid exposure to environmental pollutants – further studies are needed, but initial results show that exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (found in car exhaust and air pollution) can have an effect.
- Perform monthly self-exams – be aware of changes in your own body. Only you will know when something is not right. Look for new lumps or skin changes.
Practicing prevention in your life can help save you from a lot of pain and heartache. You need to be accountable for your own health. Take control of your wellness today!