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How to Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer

Oct 01, 2023

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Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women, which means it’s especially important to do all you can to reduce your risks. These simple steps may help.

Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer among American women, surpassed only by some forms of skin cancer. This year alone, roughly 300,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed among women and more than 43,000 women will die from the disease.

Breast cancer accounts for about one-third of new cancers in women annually, making prevention especially important. Fortunately, you can take steps to help reduce your risk of breast cancer and improve your overall wellness, too.

A top preventive medicine practice in Lewiston, Idaho, Catalyst Medical Group offers routine breast exams as well as 3D mammograms at our on-site radiology lab. To mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our providers share some steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing this all-too-common cancer.

Get regular exercise

Regular physical activity has been linked to decreasing many types of cancer, including breast cancer. Ideally, aim for about a half hour of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise five days per week, along with strength training a couple of days a week.

Eat a healthy diet

Improving your dietary habits may help reduce your risk of breast cancer, too. Focus on whole foods, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins, along with healthy fats. Cut out junk food and processed foods.  

Maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of breast cancer, especially after menopause. The two items at the top of this list — healthy eating and regular physical activity — can help you drop those excess pounds and keep them off.

Limit alcohol consumption

The CDC says women should consume no more than one alcoholic beverage per day; however, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently noted that no amount of alcohol consumption is safe for human health. To reduce your risk of breast cancer, limit alcohol or avoid it completely.

Breastfeed if you can

Most women know breastfeeding is good for their baby’s health, but it has health benefits for women, too. Research shows breastfeeding helps lower the risk of cancer, and breastfeeding more than the recommended six months lowers your risk even more.

Limit hormone therapy

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) helps many women battle the symptoms of menopause, but it can also increase your risk of breast cancer. If you opt for HRT, follow your doctor’s instructions, use the minimum amount recommended, and have regular checkups to monitor your therapy.

Have regular screenings

Regular mammograms are important for detecting cancer in its early stages. The current guidelines recommend mammograms every two years for women 50-74 years old. However, the United States Preventive Services Task Force has recommended updates to the guidelines recommending screenings every other year beginning at age 40. Ask your provider how often you need to have a mammogram.

Understand your family history

Many women mistakenly believe they can only have breast cancer if it “runs” in their family. While it’s true that having a close family relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer can increase your risk of developing breast cancer yourself, it’s also important to know that most women who get breast cancer have no family history of the disease. 

To learn more about what you can do to reduce your breast cancer risk or to schedule a breast exam or mammogram, book an appointment over the phone with our team at Catalyst Medical Group today.