The 10 Breast Commandments Reduce your risk of breast cancer
Around one in eight women will develop breast cancer, but you can reduce your risk. To mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, read our top 10 tips!
1 YOU SHALL… MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
“Being overweight is the biggest preventable cause of breast cancer, particularly after the menopause,” warns Eluned Hughes, head of public health at Breast Cancer Now. “Check your BMI (Body Mass Index) and measure your waist – as storing excess weight around your middle can particularly impact on your risk. Take action if it’s over 31.5 inches.”
2 YOU SHALL… BE BREAST AWARE
Download the free Breast Cancer Now app and get into the habit of doing a breast self-examination once a month to familiarise yourself with how your breasts normally look and feel. Check for lumps, dimpled or puckered skin and nipple changes, such as inversion, discharge or a rash. If detected early, breast cancer can be successfully treated.
YOU SHALL… BE MORE ACTIVE
“We know that being active decreases breast cancer risk,” says Eluned. “That means anything that gets you feeling warm, breathing harder and makes your heart beat faster.” It doesn’t have to mean joining a gym – it could be vigorous housework, gardening or a brisk walk. Aim for 30 minutes every day, and find ways to build more activity into your lifestyle.
4 YOU SHALL… EAT LESS MEAT
Fat consumption, especially a lot of animal fat and processed red meat, may increase the risk of breast cancer – so aim to get your essential fats from fish, nuts, chickpeas and avocados. And increasing folic acid uptake (from dark, leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruit, beans, peas and lentils, avocados, carrots, beets and squash) can help reduce your risk.
YOU SHALL… DRINK LESS ALCOHOL
Drinking alcohol increases breast cancer risk – and the more you drink, the more your risk increases, probably because alcohol can change hormone patterns, explains Eluned. “Unfortunately, there is no safe limit – so tr y and cut back by having alcohol-free nights during the week and drinking less at the weekend to stay within the recommended guidelines of 14 units per week.”
6 YOU SHALL… GET SOME SUN
Vitamin D – produced in the body when exposed to natural sunlight – is thought to have several anti-cancer actions. And a recent study found those with high levels of Vitamin D had a 22% lower chance of developing breast cancer.
7 YOU SHALL… REDUCE STRESS
Stress not only impacts on overall health, it can lead to unhealthy lifestyle habits that contribute to cancer risk, such as a bad diet, smoking and drinking alcohol. Find a healthy stress reliever that works for you – whether it’s meditation or yoga, a bath and a good book or having a relaxing facial or back massage.
8 YOU SHALL… THINK ABOUT A FISH OIL SUPPLEMENT
A study published in the Journal of Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention found that post-menopausal women who took the supplements reduced breast cancer risk by a third. It’s thought fish oils may reduce inflammation which may prevent cells from becoming damaged and turning cancerous.
YOU SHALL… SEE YOUR GP IF THERE’S A FAMILY HISTORY
Preventative drugs, such as Tamoxifen, should be offered to those women at a higher breast cancer risk due to their family history, says Eluned. “If you have a close female relative diagnosed at a young age, or a male relative with breast cancer at any age, ask your GP about genetic testing.”
10 YOU SHALL… TAKE ACTION!
If you notice any breast changes, don’t bury your head in the sand or wait to see if it goes away. In the majority of cases it will be nothing to worry about. But, if not, early treatment could save your life.
Yoga is a great way to unwind
Get out for a walk
Ask about your risk