Doctors and research scientists have pinpointed several ways you can greatly reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. Since there is not an absolute cure for the disease, prevention–focusing on healthy lifestyle choices and taking advantage of proven screening methods–is the best way for women and men to avoid it.
Breast cancer is far more survivable when caught early. That means you need to know the warning signs so you can recognize symptoms when they first appear. A monthly breast cancer self-exam is a must. If a lump is detected during the initial stages, there is almost a 100 percent five-year survival rate.
Self-exams cannot catch every mass because some of them are too small or located in hard-to-reach places. That’s where an annual mammogram comes in. Mammograms detect small lumps that cannot be found with self-exams. Since mammograms use radiation, women should only receive one per year.
Scientists have shown time and time again that being overweight causes a myriad of health problems, including an increased risk of developing breast cancer. To prevent the breast cancer risks arising from obesity, you should eat a healthy diet that is low in fat and get plenty of exercise. Many doctors recommend getting at least 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week. Dislike exercise? You’ll be happy to know that simply walking or performing yard work, if the activity increases your heart rate, qualifies as aerobic exercise.
Evidence also shows that women who consume two or more alcoholic beverages per day are in a higher risk category. Women should limit their consumption to one drink or less per day. Most research indicates that men can have up to two drinks a day before increasing their risk. Those worried about their alcohol consumption might want to abstain completely or only enjoy moderate drinking on special occasions.
Knowing your family’s medical history can help you decide what breast cancer prevention methods you should choose. If several people in your family have had breast cancer, you are at a greater risk of getting the disease, too. Work with your doctor to come up with a healthy lifestyle plan that will help you reduce your risks of developing breast cancer. A family history makes regular exams even more important.