About 300,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year in the United States, making it the second most common type of cancer among American women. More than 43,000 women will die from the disease.
In fact, among American women, breast cancer makes up about a third of new cancer diagnoses every year. The good news: There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of breast cancer and identify cancer in its earliest — and most treatable — stage.
With three primary care locations in San Pedro, California, Harbor Community Health Centers is a leading provider of breast cancer screening, offering patient-centered guidance to help women reduce their risk of cancer and improve their overall wellness, too. In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our team offers these tips to help you reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Watch what you eat
The old saying, “You are what you eat,” illustrates the direct link between good nutrition and good health. Eliminating (or significantly limiting) processed foods and “junk” foods and focusing on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and low-fat dairy gives your body the tools it needs to ward off chronic diseases, including cancer.
Get regular exercise
Research shows regular, daily exercise may help reduce your risks of several types of cancer, including breast cancer. Try to incorporate about a half hour of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, every day for at least five days a week. Focus on strength training two days a week to keep your bones healthy, too.
Maintain a healthy weight
Eating right and being more active helps support a healthy weight, which can also help reduce your risk of breast cancer (especially for women in menopause). Ask us how we can help you achieve a healthy weight goal through focused weight-management programs.
Limit alcohol consumption
Alcohol consumption has been linked to an increase in breast cancer risk. Ideally, limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one per day or less. It’s worth noting that the World Health Organization (WHO) says no amount of alcohol has been shown to be safe for human health.
Be mindful of hormone therapies
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be very effective at reducing menopause symptoms, but some types of HRT are also associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Regular monitoring and using the minimum effective dose of hormones helps you enjoy the benefits of HRT while minimizing risks.
Breastfeeding isn’t always easy or feasible. However, studies show breastfeeding could help lower your breast cancer risk, in addition to providing health benefits for your baby.
Have regular mammograms
Current guidelines from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and other agencies recommend mammograms every 1-2 years for women beginning as early as age 40, depending on your risks. If you have a higher than average risk of breast cancer, you might need screening earlier or more frequently.
Know your family history
Women with a close relative (mom, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer may have a higher risk of developing the cancer themselves. However, most women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease. Don’t assume that if you have no history of the disease, you can’t develop breast cancer yourself.
Regular mammograms and clinical breast exams are essential for lowering your risk of breast cancer. To schedule your exam, call 310-547-0202 to book an appointment with the team at Harbor Community Health Centers today.