October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This campaign was organized to raise funds for research and awareness. Raising awareness is important, however, we should also focus on prevention. One in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point in their life. When I heard this statistic, I was quite surprised. Like other cancers, breast cancer can be caused by various factors. Some risk factors that we cannot control include age, family history, race, and genetics. Fortunately, there are many factors that we can control, which will reduce our chances of developing breast cancer. Here are four lifestyle changes you can start making today to reduce your risk.
🎗Risk Factor 1 - Being Overweight Or Obese Post Menopause
Women who are overweight or obese after menopause increase their risk of having breast cancer. Having a BMI of 25.0-29.9 is considered overweight. Any BMI greater than 30 is considered obese. After menopause, a woman's main source of estrogen is fat tissue. Your chances for developing breast cancer increase when your estrogen levels rise from having too much fat tissue. Women who are overweight or obese also tend to have high blood insulin levels, which has been linked to breast cancer, as well as, other cancers.
🎗Risk Factor 2 - Not Being Active Enough
Even if you're not overweight, it's still important to be physically active. Women who don't work out and aren't physically active are more likely to get breast cancer. Studies have shown that physical activity can actually help prevent breast cancer. Even just a few hours a week of light exercise has shown to be helpful. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get 2 1/2 hours of moderate exercise a week or just over an hour of vigorous intensity activity every week. You can also do a little bit of each and spread it throughout the week.
🎗Risk Factor 3 - Taking Hormones
If you're taking birth control pills or another form of hormonal birth control, consult with your doctor as certain contraceptive pills and implants can increase your risk of breast cancer. If taken for 5+ years, some forms of hormone replacement therapy can also increase your risk. This includes progesterone and estrogen. If you're ever unsure about any medications that you're taking, ask your doctor and they will point you in the right direction.
🎗Risk Factor 4 - Alcohol
Drinking beer, wine, and liquor can also increase your chances of getting breast cancer. This could be due to a few different reasons. For one, alcohol can increase levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with breast cancer. It can also increase your risk by damaging DNA cells. Women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer than women who don't drink any alcohol. Experts also estimate that the risk goes up 10% with every additional drink per week.