Updated: Dec 5, 2022
Your breast health matters every day, and it is affected by your daily habits. You might be shocked to learn that for many people, lifestyle and habits are far more important than hereditary variables when it comes to breast health. Only 5-10 % of all breast cancers are caused by genetic causes, while up to 42% are caused by lifestyle factors.
Researches show that lifestyle changes can decrease the risk of breast cancer, even in women at high risk.
Here are 6 tips to keep your breasts and your body healthy:
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Who doesn't have this on their to-do list already? However, there's one more strong reason to maintain a healthy weight: Extra pounds equal an increase in estrogen production.
Although the link between obesity and breast cancer is not fully understood, we do know that it is critical for women to maintain a healthy weight in order to lower their risk.
"Overweight and obese adult women have a 50 to 250 percent greater risk for postmenopausal breast cancer than normal-weight women," Dr. Funk reveals. What’s more, obesity is linked to up to half of all postmenopausal breast cancer deaths.
Further studies also show the link between body mass index (BMI) and the risk of breast cancer. Maintain a BMI of less than 25 for the rest of your life, as obesity and weight gain, can raise your risk of breast cancer.
You already know that exercise is beneficial to your health. But how much is required to prevent breast cancer? To reduce overall cancer risk, the American Cancer Society recommends 2.5 hours of physical activity every week.
Statistics show that women who exercise regularly have a 10-20 percent lower risk of breast cancer than women who don’t.
It is not necessary for what you do to be intense or time-consuming. Small changes, such as using the stairs instead of the elevator, biking short distances instead of driving, or taking your pet to the park, can be great steps to improve your overall health.
3. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
Your diet has a big impact on your breast health. The type – and amount – of food you require are determined by your age, level of exercise, and a variety of other factors.
While individual dietary requirements vary, your diet should include:
Vegetables such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower), dark leafy greens, and carrots;
Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, and tangerines as they provide antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory effects. In fact, a study of six trials including over 8,000 people links citrus fruit to a lower risk of numerous diseases, including breast cancer, resulting in a 10% reduction in breast cancer risk;
Fat-free or low-fat dairy;
Protein from beans, eggs, nuts, and lean meats like fish or poultry;
Dark chocolate as it has a chemical that may help fight malignancies that grow quickly.
"The compound interacts with an enzyme, which causes cancerous cells to die but leaves normal cells alone," explains Richard Pestell, M.D., director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University. So, why not indulge in some chocolate?
4. Limit Alcohol
One of the most well-known dietary risk factors for breast cancer is alcohol. It is thought to raise estrogen levels in the body, which may increase the risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. According to a pooled analysis of data from 53 research, each alcoholic drink consumed per day can elevate the relative risk of breast cancer by roughly 7%.
You don't have to abstain from alcohol entirely, but limit yourself to one drink per day— that's 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
According to Kristi Funk, MD, breast cancer surgeon, medical director of the Pink Lotus Breast Center in Beverly Hills, Calif., and author of BREASTS: The Owner's Manual, only red wine may have redeeming qualities among the various types of alcohol, owing to the fact that resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes, suppresses cancer growth.
Furthermore, Dr. Funk claims that "red wine behaves like an aromatase inhibitor, a drug given to estrogen-positive breast cancer patients to stop the conversion of your body's steroids into estrogen."
5. Take Your Vitamins, Especially Vitamin D
There are numerous vitamins that are essential for breast health, but vitamin D is likely the most significant one. It is important for maintaining regular breast cell growth.
According to a University of California study:
University of California researchers estimate that 250,000 cases of colon cancer and 350,000 cases of breast cancer could be prevented worldwide by increasing the intake of vitamin D. Sunlight spurs the production of vitamin D in the skin, and people who don’t get much sun exposure tend to have lower levels of the vitamin.
Vitamin D is often referred to as “the sunshine vitamin”. When you go out in the sun, wear sunscreen and eat more vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish such as salmon, egg yolks, cheese, and milk on a daily basis. If you'd prefer to take a pill, the current supplementation recommendation is 600 IUs for adults, and 800 IUs for those over 70.
6. Know Your Risk of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer affects one out of every eight women at some point in their lives, a rate higher than any other cancer except lung cancer. Understanding your own risk of having breast cancer can assist you in taking the necessary precautions to stay healthy.
Regular breast cancer screenings are extremely beneficial to a woman's health. The best method to boost your chances of beating breast cancer is to catch it early. Mammography, clinical breast exam, and breast self-exam are the three main screening tests. For women at average risk of breast cancer, all three are critical.
Women with a family history of breast cancer are at an increased risk, and women with a first-degree relative who has breast cancer are twice as likely to acquire breast cancer. Age, body weight, radiation exposure, menstruation, and reproductive history all play a role.
Fortunately, your lifestyle decisions can have a significant impact and can help you overcome genetic susceptibility.
To Sum Up
Living your healthiest life is a great step, but it's not enough to lower your breast cancer risk. It's also crucial to understand your risk, get examined on a regular basis, and pay attention to your breasts so you can respond quickly if something changes. The truth is that no one can prevent breast cancer, but there are many things we can do to keep ourselves and our breasts as healthy as possible.
Wearing the right-sized bra, choosing deodorant wisely, massaging your breasts, and regular visits with your primary care doctor are some other great ways to improve breast health. But don’t forget: Prevention is your best protection.
Early detection of breast cancer saves lives. It means more treatment options, less invasive surgery, and a better chance of complete recovery.
A lump in the breast is the most prevalent symptom of breast cancer. It's usually solitary, firm, and painless.
Other signs can include:
Swelling of the breasts or the underarms;
A previously protruding nipple that becomes inverted;
Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast;
A change in the breast's size or form;
Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.