13 Simple Steps to Prevent Breast Cancer

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Every Western woman has about a 1 in 8 (12%) chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime (as compared with Asian and African women, who have only a 4% chance), so most sensible women might wonder if there are steps they can take to prevent breast cancer.

New research is emerging all the time which points to important lifestyle changes a woman can make to lower her risk. While it is true that breast cancer does have a genetic component, with about 5% to 10% due to a faulty gene, it is also true that a healthy lifestyle can offset some of this risk. You are not doomed to have breast cancer, but it will be a good idea to learn as much as you can to try to stay healthy.

1. Look at your family tree

Having one or more close relative such a mother, sister or aunt with breast cancer might give you a clue you are more at risk because of your genes.

2. Get tested

There are simple and inexpensive tests to determine if you have a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, in which case, you would be more prone to breast cancer, and also ovarian cancer. Based on your results, you could then discuss the most logical treatment plan with your doctor.

Most breast cancers occur in women who have gone through menopause. Angelina Jolie made the decision to get tested in her mid-30s, and then have both breasts and her ovaries removed in order to try to prevent both of these cancers. Her mother had had both before she died at a young age, so Jolie decided to try to increase her chances of living a long, normal life in a rather radical way.

This is not a decision anyone would take lightly, but getting ‘pre-cancerous findings’ through screening tests made this seem like the logical personal choice for her.

3. Give yourself regular breast self-examinations

Learn how to give yourself a proper exam and do it once a month. Schedule 15 minutes on your calendar in the week before or the week after your period to give yourself the exam.

4. Enlist your partner’s help

Teacher your partner or spouse what to look for. In many cases, they have been the ones who noticed ‘something different’ that was worth checking out.

5. Follow up with your doctor

If you find anything of concern, go to your doctor for a follow up. They might determine there is nothing to worry about, or recommend further tests.

6. Go for mammograms

If your doctor suspects something might be forming, they will recommend a mammogram. Otherwise, all women should have mammograms according to the current suggested guidelines:

Women ages 40 to 44

Start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so and if they have a family history.

Women age 45 to 54

They should get mammograms every year.

Women 55 and older

They should have every 2 years, or can continue yearly screenings if they wish if they are especially concerned, such as due to a history of breast cancer in the family.

Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health, and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.


7. Stop smoking

This is one of the best things you can ever do for your health.

8. Stop drinking alcohol

It has been linked with several forms of cancer.

9. Stop eating red meat

It has been lined with several forms of cancer, especially if it is grilled or charred.

10. Eat a healthy plant-based diet

Going vegetarian or vegan has been shown to be protective against breast and other forms of cancer.

11. Watch your weight

Breast cancer is more common in obese women, especially those who have gone through menopause.

12. Work out more

Exercise is protective against most diseases and keeps the weight down.

13. Avoid hormones such as birth control pills, and hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Some cancers thrive on hormonal activity.

Prevention is far better than a cure, so follow these simple steps to better breast health.

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