A healthy lifestyle contributes greatly to maintaining wellness. It can even influence the risk of having breast cancer.
The fight against breast cancer
Breast cancer is the most widespread form of cancer, and is very well-known. In fact, it is the most common type of cancer in Canadian women, excluding skin cancers other than melanoma. It is the second most common cause of death by cancer in this population. It should be noted that it can also occur in men, although more rarely.
Fortunately, we hear a lot about breast cancer. Who isn't familiar with the image of the pink ribbon, which symbolizes the fight against breast cancer? Large-scale education, screening programs, and the intensity of medical research have contributed to making this cancer less deadly than before.
Most women are committed to maintaining their breast health and their general health. As for breast cancer, certain concrete measures help to reduce the risks of one day suffering from it. The best way to fight cancer is to prevent it! Here is some information on the subject.
Risk factors of breast cancer
Some factors predispose a person to developing breast cancer. Some cannot be modified, while others are linked to habits or lifestyle choices. Here is a non-exhaustive list:
- advanced age (the risk increases with age)
- being tall at an adult age
- having had breast cancer in the past
- having a family history of breast cancer, especially a first degree relative (mother, sister or daughter)
- having genetic mutations that predispose you to breast cancer
- belonging to a certain ethnic origin
- having dense breasts
- starting your first period at 11 years of age or younger
- starting menopause after 55 years of age
- having your first pregnancy after the age of 30
- never having carried a child
- taking hormone replacement therapy (i.e., for hot flashes due to menopause)
- prolonged use of oral contraceptives
- having been exposed to certain types of radiation
- being obese, and
- consuming alcohol in excess
Possible risk factors:
- being inactive (sedentary)
- smoking or being exposed to second-hand smoke, and
- having a high birth weight
There is a common thread for some of these elements: prolonged exposure to natural or synthetic hormones. Estrogen is a hormone that is known to be associated with breast cancer. It influences the growth of mammalian cells. It is also believed that it plays a role in the development of cancer cells in the breast.
Caution! A person presenting some or several of these risk factors will not necessarily develop breast cancer! Conversely, a woman can have breast cancer in her lifetime even if she appears not to present any of these factors.
This being said, proper knowledge of these risk factors helps to identify the individuals most likely to benefit from prevention or early detection measures. Every woman would benefit from discussing this with her doctor to evaluate her level of personal risk and take the appropriate action, if needed.
Adopting healthy habits
An unhealthy lifestyle can lead to several health problems, including cancer. This is why having a healthy lifestyle is an asset in breast cancer prevention. Here are some important tips to maintain your health:
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Choose foods that are rich in fibre.
- Avoid dishes that are high in fat or salt.
- Limit your weekly intake of red meat.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Quit smoking.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- If you become a mother, choose breastfeeding (for its protective action against breast cancer).
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of suffering from the repercussions of breast cancer is to detect any suspicious lump as early as possible. It is recommended to follow your doctor's guidelines and recommendations for screening (mammogram, breast exam, etc.). The chances of a successful treatment are much better when the cancer is detected early and care is provided quickly. Speak to your doctor about it.
Speak to your pharmacist or doctor for additional information about breast cancer, prevention, and screening methods.