Breast Cancer: How Your Choices Can Raise Your Risk
It’s not news to anyone that lifestyle choices impact our health: Smoking, for instance, contributes to lung cancer, as UV exposure contributes to skin cancer.
What may be news is that there are choices you may be making right now that have the potential to increase your chances of developing breast cancer.
Cancer cells – and breast cancer is no exception – thrive in conditions that foster their growth. Some of those conditions, like your genetics, you can’t control, while others you can.
That’s why it’s important to be familiar with risk factors and make the choices that are best suited for your health.
q Weight – Studies show that women who gain excessive weight, particularly post-menopause, are more likely to develop breast cancer. Body fat impacts our physiology. By keeping our weight in a healthy range, we can prevent those negative effects.
q Family – Although up to 80 percent of women who get breast cancer have no family history, those who do should be especially vigilant. These are women (and men) with close relatives on the mother’s or father’s side who have had breast cancer. It’s especially important for this group to monitor their other risk factors, like weight and physical activity.
q Activity – Sure, being active helps keep your weight down, but it’s not just about the number on the scale. Physically active people have a reduced risk of breast cancer – even when the person starts later in life.
q Alcohol – Research is being conducted on the why and how, but there is evidence that alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer at high intake.
q Hormones – Studies on the impact of hormone therapy on postmenopausal women found that breast cancer risk increases with prolonged combined hormonal replacement therapy.
Reducing your risk is one of the best things you can do in the fight against breast cancer. There is no true prevention measure for cancer, but by making better choices, you improve your chances of living a better life.
Claude Abouchedid, MD