Spe­cial Re­port

This Breast Can­cer Aware­ness Month, know your risks of and pre­vent breast can­cer

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

Breast can­cer. Just read­ing those words can make many women worry. And that’s nat­u­ral. Nearly ev­ery­one knows some­one touched by the dis­ease. But there is a lot of good news about breast can­cer these days. Treat­ments keep get­ting bet­ter, and we know more than ever about ways to pre­vent the dis­ease. These 10 sim­ple steps can help lower the risk of breast can­cer. Not ev­ery­one ap­plies to ev­ery woman, but to­gether they can have a big im­pact.

1 Keep Your Weight In Check

It’s easy to tune out be­cause it gets said so of­ten, but main­tain­ing a healthy weight is an im­por­tant goal for ev­ery­one. Be­ing over­weight can in­crease the risk of many dif­fer­ent can­cers, in­clud­ing breast can­cer, es­pe­cially af­ter menopause.

2 Be Phys­i­cally Ac­tive

Ex­er­cise is as close to a sil­ver bul­let for good health as there is, and women who are phys­i­cally ac­tive for at least 30 min­utes a day have a lower risk of breast can­cer. Reg­u­lar ex­er­cise is also one of the best ways to help keep weight in check.

3 Eat Your Fruits & Veg­eta­bles

A healthy diet can help lower the risk of breast can­cer. Try to eat a lot of fruits and veg­eta­bles and keep al­co­hol at mod­er­ate lev­els or lower (a drink a day or un­der).

4 Avoid Too Much Al­co­hol

While mod­er­ate drink­ing can be good for the heart in older adults, even low lev­els of in­take can in­crease the risk of breast can­cer. If you don’t drink, don’t feel you need to start. If you drink mod­er­ately, there’s likely no rea­son to stop. But, if you drink more, you should cut down or quit.

5 Don’t Smoke

Smok­ers and non-smok­ers alike know how un­healthy smok­ing is. On top of low­er­ing qual­ity of life and in­creas­ing the risk of heart dis­ease, stroke, and at least 15 can­cers – in­clud­ing breast can­cer – it also causes smelly breath, bad teeth, and wrin­kles. Now that’s mo­ti­va­tion to stay smoke-free or work to get smoke-free.

6 Breast­feed, If Pos­si­ble

Breast­feed­ing for a to­tal of one year or more (com­bined for all chil­dren) low­ers the risk of breast can­cer. It also has great health ben­e­fits for the child.

7 Avoid Birth Con­trol Pills, Par­tic­u­larly Af­ter Age 35 Or If You Smoke

Birth con­trol pills have both risks and ben­e­fits. The younger a woman is, the lower the risks are. While women are tak­ing birth con­trol pills, they have a slightly in­creased risk of breast can­cer. This risk goes away quickly, though, af­ter stop­ping the pill. The risk of stroke and heart at­tack is also in­creased while on the pill – par­tic­u­larly if a woman smokes. How­ever, long-term use can also have im­por­tant ben­e­fits, like low­er­ing the risk of ovar­ian can­cer, colon can­cer and uter­ine can­cer – not to men­tion un­wanted preg­nancy – so there’s also a lot in its fa­vor. If you’re very con­cerned about breast can­cer, avoid­ing birth con­trol pills is one op­tion to lower risk.

8 Avoid Post­Menopausal Hor­mones

Post-menopausal hor­mones shouldn’t be taken long term to pre­vent chronic dis­eases, like os­teo­poro­sis and heart dis­ease. Stud­ies show they have a mixed ef­fect on health, in­creas­ing the risk of some dis­eases and

It’s easy to tune gets out be­cause it but said so of­ten, healthy main­tain­ing a weight is an im­por­tant goal for ev­ery­one. Be­ing over­weight the risk can in­crease of many dif­fer­ent can­cers, in­clud­ing breast can­cer, es­pe­cially af­ter menopause.

low­er­ing the risk of oth­ers, and both es­tro­gen-only hor­mones and es­tro­gen-plus-pro­gestin hor­mones in­crease the risk of breast can­cer. If women do take post-menopausal hor­mones, it should be for the short­est time pos­si­ble. The best per­son to talk to about the risks and ben­e­fits of post-menopausal hor­mones is your doc­tor.

9 Find Out Your Fam­ily His­tory

Women with a strong fam­ily his­tory of can­cer can take spe­cial steps to pro­tect them­selves, so it’s im­por­tant for women to know their fam­ily his­tory. First-de­gree rel­a­tives, such as moth­ers, sis­ters, and chil­dren, who have been di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer or ovar­ian can­cer, es­pe­cially be­fore age 50. If two first-de­gree rel­a­tives de­vel­oped breast can­cer, the risk is five times the av­er­age risk. Many close rel­a­tives who have been di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer or ovar­ian can­cer, es­pe­cially be­fore age 50. Close rel­a­tives in­clude grand­par­ents, aunts and un­cles, nieces and neph­ews, grand­chil­dren, and cousins. A fam­ily mem­ber who

Ahealthy diet can help lower the risk of breast eat can­cer. Try to a lot of fruits and veg­eta­bles and keep al­co­hol at mod­er­ate lev­els or lower (a drink a day or un­der).

de­vel­oped breast can­cer in both breasts. A male rel­a­tive who de­vel­oped breast can­cer. It is un­cer­tain how much a woman’s risk of breast can­cer is in­creased when a man in the fam­ily has breast can­cer, un­less this is due to an in­her­ited mu­ta­tion. A doc­tor or ge­netic coun­sel­lor can help you un­der­stand your fam­ily his­tory of the dis­ease.

10 Don’t For­get Screen­ing

De­spite some con­tro­versy, stud­ies show that breast can­cer screen­ing with mam­mog­ra­phy saves lives. It doesn’t help pre­vent can­cer, but it can help find can­cer early when it’s most treat­able. Clin­i­cal breast ex­ams and self-ex­ams are not rec­om­mended. But you should be fa­mil­iar with your breasts and tell a health care provider right away if you no­tice any changes in how your breasts look or feel (see box on the last page).

Breast­feed, if pos­si­ble. Breast­feed­ing for a to­tal of one year or more all (com­bined for chil­dren) low­ers the risk of breast can­cer. It also has great health ben­e­fits for the child.

Other Im­por­tant Risk Fac­tors For Breast Can­cer

Un­for­tu­nately, there are also a num­ber of im­por­tant breast can­cer risk fac­tors that women have no con­trol over. Know­ing which ones ap­ply to you can help you un­der­stand your risk and do what you can to lower it. If you feel you’re at high risk, talk to a doc­tor or other health pro­fes­sional. These can in­crease a woman’s breast can­cer risk: Older age, es­pe­cially 60 years or over First men­strual pe­riod (menar­che) be­fore age 12 Menopause at age 55 or over First child­birth af­ter age 35 No chil­dren Tall height (5’8” or taller) Dense breasts His­tory of be­nign breast dis­ease (like atyp­i­cal hy­per­pla­sia)

Foods To Pre­vent The Risk Of Breast Can­cer

No spe­cific food can cause or pre­vent breast can­cer. How­ever, di­etary guide­lines may help you re­duce your over­all breast can­cer risk.

Green Tea

Green tea is tied to a num­ber of ben­e­fits rang­ing from weight loss to blood pres­sure man­age­ment. The pop­u­lar brew has also been the sub­ject of on­go­ing study for its role in can­cer preven­tion. That’s be­cause green tea is high in polyphe­nol and cat­e­chins. These an­tiox­i­dants may help pro­tect cells from DNA dam­age caused by free rad­i­cals. More re­search is needed to prove its ef­fi­cacy, but there’s no harm in adding a cup to your daily rou­tine.

Pome­gran­ate Juice

Pome­gran­ate juice, which is de­rived from its seed pulp, also con­tains polyphe­nols. One study sug­gests that pome­gran­ate juice has the po­ten­tial to be a pre­ven­tive tool for cer­tain can­cers, in­clud­ing breast can­cer. The re­searchers also pro­posed pome­gran­ate ex­tract as a vi­able al­ter­na­tive to pome­gran­ate juice. The ex­tract may carry the same ben­e­fits in smaller doses than the juice does. If you have di­a­betes, talk with your doc­tor be­fore adding pome­gran­ate juice to your diet. The juice is typ­i­cally high in su­gar and may af­fect your blood glu­cose lev­els.


Berries, such as blue­ber­ries, straw­ber­ries, and black rasp­ber­ries, con­tain high amounts of polyphe­nols, which may have an­ti­cancer prop­er­ties. They’re also high in an­tiox­i­dants, such as vi­ta­min C. There is some ev­i­dence that berries may help re­duce breast can­cer risk. No cur­rent rec­om­men­da­tion ex­ists for daily dosage, though one serv­ing of fruit is equiv­a­lent to 3/4 to 1 cup of berries.

Plums And Peaches

Ac­cord­ing to a study, the polyphe­nols found in plums and peaches may help pre­vent breast can­cer cells from form­ing and later multiplying. Ev­i­dence sug­gests the polyphe­nols help kill can­cer­ous cells while leav­ing healthy cells alone.

Cru­cif­er­ous Veg­eta­bles

These veg­eta­bles are typ­i­cally rich in an­tiox­i­dant vi­ta­mins, such as C, E, and K, and are high in fiber. Cru­cif­er­ous veg­eta­bles con­tain glu­cosi­no­lates, a type of chem­i­cal. This chem­i­cal, as well as the other com­po­nents found in cru­cif­er­ous veg­gies, may have can­cer-fight­ing prop­er­ties. Pop­u­lar cru­cif­er­ous veg­eta­bles in­clude: Broc­coli, cau­li­flower, Brus­sels sprouts, kale and cab­bage.

Dark, Leafy Green Veg­eta­bles

The darker the green, the denser the nu­tri­tion. Greens are typ­i­cally high in an­tiox­i­dants and fi­bre, which may make them po­tent anti-can­cer tools.


Carotenoids are found in many red, or­ange, dark green, and yel­low fruits and veg­eta­bles.

These foods are typ­i­cally high in vi­ta­min A, lutein, beta carotene and ly­copene, all of which might be ef­fec­tive against free rad­i­cals. Ex­am­ples in­clude: Car­rots, toma­toes, kale, apri­cots and sweet pota­toes.

Whole Grains

Whole-grain foods also tend to be high in an­ti­cancer polyphe­nols. They of­ten in­clude other key nu­tri­ents, such as fiber, mag­ne­sium, and pro­tein.

Pop­u­lar whole-grain op­tions in­clude: Brown rice, oat­meal, corn, bar­ley.


Part of the al­lium veg­etable fam­ily, gar­lic is known for its dis­tinc­tive taste and aroma. There may be a con­nec­tion be­tween in­creased in­take of gar­lic and other al­lium veg­eta­bles, such as onions, and a re­duc­tion in the growth of breast can­cer cells.

Most breast changes aren’t it can­cer. But if is can­cer, the ear­lier you find a change and have it treated, the bet­ter your chances – a whether you’re manora­woman.

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