1. Health

Top 10 Breast Cancer Prevention Methods

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Updated June 15, 2007

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, aside from lung cancer. 1 in every 8 women are estimated to develop breast cancer in their lifetime. While there are certain risk factors like genetics we cannot change, there are many lifestyle changes we can make to aid in breast cancer prevention.

1. Pass on that last call for alcohol.

Studies have determined that women who drink alcoholic beverages develop cancer at a higher rate. How much is too much? Based on studies, ladies who consume 2 to 5 drinks daily have about 1½ times the risk of women who don't consume alcohol.

2. Quitters DO prosper - when it comes to smoking.

Although there has not been a direct link between smoking and breast cancer, studies suggest that smoking at an early age can increase a woman's risk. Not only can it be a risk for breast cancer, smoking is a definite risk factor for lung cancer. Need help quitting? Click on over to our Quit Smoking site, where you will find everything you need to know to kick the habit.

3. Get physical.

Physical activity may reduce your risk of breast cancer. Studies by the Women's Health Initiative found that women who walked briskly 1.25 to 2.5 hours per week reduced a woman's breast cancer risk by 18%. Exercise doesn't always mean traditional gym exercises either. Check out the Top 10 Ways to Prevent Cancer Through Exercise for fun ideas.

4. Be aware of your family breast cancer history.

Having a family or personal history of breast cancer may increase your risk. If an immediate woman in your family has had breast cancer, it is important to let your doctor know. Studies have shown that breast cancer can be genetic. Genetic testing and counseling is available for those concerned with their risk. Keep in mind, that just because your mother or sister had breast cancer, it does not mean you will definitely develop breast cancer.

5. Avoid hormone replacement therapy if possible.

Studies have shown a link between long time hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer. This link suggests that combined HRT's (estrogen and progesterone) raise the risk factor. Five years after discontinuing HRT's the risk factor drops. HRT's also make mammograms less effective. If you need to take hormone replacement therapy, talk to your doctor about the risk and your personal condition.

6. Check your breasts every month.

Checking your breasts every month may not reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, but it may help detect breast cancer early. The earlier breast cancer is found, the less aggressive the treatment. Take a look at "How To Perform a Self Breast Exam" to learn how to do an exam, or to see if you are doing it correctly.

7. Try to keep a low fat diet.

A diet low in fat not only decreases the risk of obesity, it can reduce your risk of breast cancer. We know that estrogen plays a majot role in the development of breast cacner. Fat tissue contains small amounts of estrogen and may increase your risk. There have been conflicting studies about fat intake and breast cancer risk, however all studies have consluded that obesity plays a big part in breast cancer development.

8. Don't forget to get a mammogram - it's not a choice.

Like the breast self exam, a mammogram won't prevent the development of breast cancer, but it can detect cancer. Sometimes it can be difficult to feel a lump in the breast, and a mammogram is likely to detect any lumps that cannot be felt.

9. Have children earlier in life, if possible

Having no children or having your first child in your mid-thirties or later increases the risk.

10. Consider breastfeeding instead of formula feeding.

Researchers believe that the months without a period during pregnancy and breast feeding may reduce a woman's risk of breast cancer. This accompanies the data that suggests that early menopause lowers the risk factor, as well.

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