Breast Cancer Experts Recommend: Do These 5 Things To Cut Down Risk
(AscendHealthy.com) – The United States sees about 264,000 women and 2,400 men diagnosed with breast cancer each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It is the most common form of cancer in women and, though rare in men, represents about 1 in every 100 cases of breast cancer.
But experts say women and men can take steps to reduce their risk of getting breast cancer. Those with a family history of breast cancer should talk with their doctor about more steps to take to prevent breast cancer. Here are five steps people can take to reduce their risk of getting breast cancer.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity leads to health concerns of many varieties, but particularly in post-menopausal women, obesity can be a leading cause of breast cancer. According to the MD Anderson Cancer Center, researchers believe obesity causes a rise in estrogen in women after menopause, leading to an increased breast cancer risk.
Those with a healthy weight should maintain a good diet and increase exercise to ensure they control their weight, while those who already are overweight should consult with their health care team to determine the best way to lose weight and increase physical activity.
Boost Physical Activity
Physical activity plays a big role in maintaining a healthy weight and helps regulate estrogen levels. The Mayo Clinic recommends healthy adults aim for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise.
Strength training at least twice per week also helps raise metabolism and has the added benefit of adding bone density, which helps prevent osteoporosis. A doctor or personal trainer can recommend a proper strength training program so the person doesn’t succumb to injuries while trying to improve their health.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Researchers have found a clear link between excessive alcohol consumption and the development of breast cancer, but have not pinned down the exact reason yet. The theories are that alcohol carries empty calories and leads to weight gain and/or alcohol increases the amount of estrogen and other hormones in the body.
Research has found that the risk of getting breast cancer increases in women who drink more than one alcoholic drink per day (12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor).
Limit Hormone Therapy Treatment
Hormone therapy treatments, especially those that combine estrogen and progesterone, meant to control symptoms of menopause have been found the increase breast cancer risk, particularly if taken for more than five years, according to the CDC. Experts recommend taking these treatments for a limited period of time and at the lowest doses possible to minimize breast cancer risk.
Doctors also might offer other non-hormonal therapies or medications to ease menopause symptoms.
Certain hormonal contraceptives also have been linked to breast cancer.
For younger women, breastfeeding their children and continuing to breastfeed for as long as possible are proven means to reduce breast cancer risk. For women who have their first child after age 30, breastfeeding seems especially important in lower breast cancer risk.
Women who have never carried a pregnancy to term also show a higher risk of breast cancer, so taking the other steps mentioned above could be of particular importance to them.
Risk Factors for Men
Obesity, a family history of breast cancer, and genetic mutations are the primary risk factors for men to get breast cancer, the CDC reports. Cirrhosis of the liver also can be a contributing factor, so men would be well advised to maintain a healthy weight and limit alcohol consumption, too.
Men who have had an injury to their testicles or who have undergone chest radiation therapy also could be at higher risk and should consult with their doctor.
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