With the amount of effort and research invested into finding a cure for breast cancer, it is heartbreaking, almost inconceivable, that the number of diagnoses continues to rise each year. However, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. Here are some ways that you can maintain your breasts’ health.
Maintain a healthy weight
Estrogen is produced in adipose tissue, which is a major factor in the development of estrogen-sensitive breast cancer. Certain types of breast cancer are a result of breast cancer tissues exposed to high levels of estrogen. The high levels of estrogen produced in fatty tissues should be motivation enough to drop the weight, however, you don’t want to stimulate the growth of cancer cells in your breasts. Moreover, women who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 and have not been diagnosed, or are in remission and have a BMI of 30 or more, run a greater risk of cancer returning. When in doubt, maintain a healthy weight.
If you want to maintain healthy breasts, make it a point to undergo some sort of physical activity each day. After all, keeping physically active – anything that elevates your heart rate – cuts your risk of cancer by one-fourth. Why is exercise such a powerful form of prevention? Because exercise boosts the immune function while encouraging weight loss. Plus, exercise lowers levels of estrogen and insulin, meaning that the more you exercise, the better your body can heal and function. When choosing exercise, alternate between aerobic exercises like walking or cycling, and weight-bearing or resistance exercises, like Yoga or Pilates.
Research has proven a strong correlation between a poor diet and the development of breast cancer. The good news is that some of the strongest preventive measures can be found in the produce aisle of your local supermarket. To reduce breast cancer risk, fruits and vegetables should comprise up to 80 percent of your diet. Focus on broccoli, cabbage, kale, tomatoes, berries, whole grains, and nuts. Avoid saturated fats, processed foods and sugary treats. Keep your meats lean – chicken and fish are great – and limit your red meat intake.
Mind your vitamin D
One well-known risk of breast cancer is having low levels of vitamin D. The same goes for those in remission, where low vitamin D levels can lead to a recurrence. If you do not already know, the best source of the vitamin D is the sun, so catch a few (protected) rays whenever you can. Not sure about your vitamin D levels? Ask your doctor to check them. During winter, you can supplement vitamin D levels by taking supplements.
Know your History
Spending time doing genealogy or getting a DNA test for your birthday aren’t just trendy past times, they could reveal a good deal about whether you have an elevated risk of developing breast cancer. For example, certain gene mutations within the Ashkenazic Jewish and African American communities increase your risk of developing breast cancer, no matter how healthy you may be otherwise. Knowing your family history – which family members might have had or passed from cancer – can prove invaluable when it comes to deciding to undergo testing for distinct genetic markers.
Establish a Baseline
How would you know if your breasts are healthy if you don’t know what normal is for them? That’s why getting regular breast exams is so important. These tests establish a baseline to measure any abnormal activity thereafter. You can also learn to conduct monthly breast examines to really get in tune with your changing body.
Keep an Open Dialogue
One easy way to keep on top of your breast health is by maintaining a two-way dialogue with an experienced gynecologist. In Syracuse, women know they can trust University OBGYN Associates, where we have breast health programs for patients considered high-risk – to include those with a family history of breast cancer. Our program includes genetic counseling and testing, regular examinations, and imaging and diagnostic services. If needed, we have medical and surgical options to reduce your breast cancer risk or treat your condition. It’s never too early to start a lifetime of good breast health. Call University OBGYN Associates today at (315) 464-5162 or request an appointment now.