According to the American Cancer Society, women in the United States have about a one-in-eight chance of developing breast cancer on average. Those with a prominent family history of breast cancer may actually have even greater odds of developing it. But did you know that simple things you can do every day will not only help to keep you healthier overall, but also work to reduce your risk at the same time?
In a report from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund, researchers concluded that daily habits like keeping the weight under control, exercising regularly and limiting alcohol consumption could not only improve your basic level of health, but also decrease the odds of you getting breast cancer!
119 studies that looked at the relationship between breast cancer risk and diet, exercise and body weight were evaluated for this report. Increased exercise was tied to reduced breast cancer risk, while being overweight and drinking alcohol regularly had the opposite effect, and increased it. That shouldn’t come as a shock to most people because those variables have routinely been tied to good or poor health in general. But for someone who may have unchangeable risk factors such as family history of breast cancer, or for those progressing in years, paying attention to these lifestyle factors may make a big difference.
Be A Little More Specific Please…
On the point of exercise, women with the highest amounts of daily activity were 13% less likely to develop postmenopausal breast cancer versus those who weren’t. 30 minutes of exercise each day, like fast-paced walking, was all it took, but other activities that were more physical like yard work or gardening were included in that total. In order to affect risk pre-menopause, the exercise needed to be vigorous, but it gave a 17% lower cancer risk for upping the intensity!
Weight gain seems to be a challenge for many people as the years go on and lifestyles change. For ladies, being overweight or obese did show a greater risk for breast cancer after menopause. For every 5-point increase in body mass index (BMI), measuring weight vs height, the risk of breast cancer rose by 12 percent. While BMI is not the best assessment to fully understand what type of weight you are carrying (fat vs lean), it gives a general idea about change. If you’re gaining weight, but not getting any taller, that’s usually not a good sign…
And for those that like to enjoy a favorite adult beverage of choice, you may want to give it a little thought before imbibing. Even moderate drinking was tied to an increased breast cancer risk. Just 1 drink each day (like a small glass of wine) raised the chance of breast cancer by 5 – 9%. Not the most welcome news for many people I’m sure, but sometimes the things we like most aren’t always the best for our health.
And remember, we always have to take things in context of the bigger picture. If your weight is in a normal range, you exercise regularly and have a healthy diet with lots of vegetables to help protect your body, then maybe that occasional drink or two may not be as detrimental. But when there are multiple health challenges that the body has to deal with, adding more self-imposed stresses to the body make you more likely to develop issues like cancer or diabetes.
One of our programs could be just what you need if you fall into one or more of those risk factor categories. We focus heavily of incorporating a healthy diet and positive lifestyle changes that overall are generally accepted as being beneficial for reducing risk of issues like cancer. We also assess bloodwork and hormone levels to make sure that something like estrogen is not too high, another factor that could make a woman more susceptible to breast cancer. Certain foods and beauty products are known to affect women’s hormone levels and could be causing imbalances since they are eaten or used every day!
If you need to know if you or at risk due to imbalances or your current health state could use an improvement, please call our office and we can get you on a program to help bring your health back to the state it was meant to be. A little extra effort now could mean the difference of a cancer-free future tomorrow!