6 Breast Can­cer Risk Fac­tors You CAN Con­trol

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - WORLD NEWS -

Be­ing Over­weight

Over­weight and obese women -- de­fined as hav­ing a BMI (body mass in­dex) over 25 -- have a higher risk of be­ing di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer com­pared to women who main­tain a healthy weight, es­pe­cially af­ter menopause. This higher risk is be­cause fat cells make es­tro­gen; ex­tra fat cells mean more es­tro­gen in the body, and es­tro­gen can make hor­mone-re­cep­tor­pos­i­tive breast can­cers de­velop and grow.

Eat­ing Un­healthy Food

Diet is thought to be partly re­spon­si­ble for about 30% to 40% of all can­cers. No food or diet can pre­vent you from get­ting breast can­cer. But some foods can make your body the health­i­est it can be and help keep your risk for breast can­cer as low as pos­si­ble. Re­search has shown that get­ting nu­tri­ents from a va­ri­ety of foods, es­pe­cially fruits, veg­eta­bles, legumes, and whole grains, can make you feel your best and give your body the en­ergy it needs. Eat­ing food grown with­out pes­ti­cides may pro­tect against un­healthy cell changes as­so­ci­ated with pes­ti­cide use in an­i­mal stud­ies.

Lack of Ex­er­cise

Re­search shows a link be­tween ex­er­cis­ing reg­u­larly at a mod­er­ate or in­tense level for 4 to 7 hours per week and a lower risk of breast can­cer. Ex­er­cise con­sumes and con­trols blood sugar and lim­its blood lev­els of in­sulin growth fac­tor, a hor­mone that can af­fect how breast cells grow and be­have. Peo­ple who ex­er­cise reg­u­larly tend to be health­ier and are more likely to main­tain a healthy weight.

Drink­ing Al­co­hol

Com­pared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have three al­co­holic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast can­cer. Ex­perts es­ti­mate that the risk of breast can­cer goes up an­other 10% for each ad­di­tional drink a woman reg­u­larly has each day. Re­search con­sis­tently shows that drink­ing al­co­hol can in­crease lev­els of es­tro­gen and other hor­mones as­so­ci­ated with hor­mone-re­cep­tor-pos­i­tive breast can­cer. Al­co­hol also may in­crease breast can­cer risk by dam­ag­ing DNA in cells.


Smok­ing causes a num­ber of diseases and is linked to a higher risk of breast can­cer in younger, pre­menopausal women. Re­search also has shown that there may be link be­tween very heavy sec­ond-hand smoke ex­po­sure and breast can­cer risk in post­menopausal women.

Us­ing Hor­mone Re­place­ment Ther­apy

Be­cause the fe­male hor­mone es­tro­gen stim­u­lates breast cell growth, ex­po­sure to es­tro­gen over long pe­ri­ods of time, with­out any breaks, can in­crease the risk of breast can­cer. Tak­ing com­bi­na­tion (es­tro­gen and pro­ges­terone) hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy (HRT) for sev­eral years or more, or tak­ing es­tro­gen alone for more than 10 years, are as­so­ci­ated with in­creased breast can­cer risk. (Com­bi­na­tion HRT also in­creases the like­li­hood that the can­cer may be found at a more ad­vanced stage.)

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