According to The American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women and about 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. With earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, women can educate themselves and work to lower the rates of death from breast cancer. It’s important to note that breast cancer prevention starts with healthy habits. Nicole Zoellner, mom inventor of Nizo Wear nursing bras, shares seven tips every woman should know to help lower her risk of developing breast cancer.
1. Stay a healthy weight. A woman is at a higher risk of developing breast cancer is she is overweight or obese. Research shows that postmenopausal women who are obese are 1.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer. According to oncology dietician Katrina Claghorn, R.D., body fat may convert adrenal hormones to estrogen after menopause. However, losing weight before menopause lowers risk.
2. Exercise. The National Cancer Institute shows that exercising four or more hours a week can decrease estrogen levels and in turn help lower breast cancer risk. Since physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, it can also help prevent breast cancer. It has also been suggested that exercise may stimulate the immune system or fight free radicals that corrode cells.
3. Limit alcohol. Limit yourself to no more than one alcoholic beverage a day, including beer, wine or liquor. The more you consume, the greater the danger as alcohol reduces the liver’s ability to metabolize estrogen. Some studies show that even one to two drinks a day over your lifetime can spike your risk of breast cancer.
4. Know your family history. If your mother, grandmother or maternal aunt developed breast cancer at age 50 or earlier, you may carry the gene BRCA1 or BRCA2, which can place your lifetime risk of breast cancer at 60% (and your risk of ovarian cancer at 15-40%). Your family history can’t be changed but you can work on making other healthy lifestyle choices to lower your risk.
5. Eat Healthy. Diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, olive oil, whole grains and legumes is linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Fiber can enhance the bacteria that metabolizes estrogen and escorts it out of the body. Eating healthy can help you maintain a healthy weight and can also decrease your risk of developing other types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
6. Check your D levels. Vitamin D has been shown to block the growth of breast cancer tumors. Research shows women who got a lot of vitamin D from diet, supplements or spending time outdoors were 25-50% less likely to develop breast cancer than those with lower levels.
7. Breastfeed. Research has shown that breastfeeding lowers the mother’s risk of breast cancer. It is thought that breastfeeding interrupts ovulation which lowers estrogen output. Discovery Health says, “Breastfeeding may help breast cells become fully mature and thus less prone to mutations that can turn cancerous.” The longer that you breastfeed, the greater its protective effect.
About author Nicole Zoellner, mom inventor of Nizo Wear nursing bras, is not a physician and this article not intended to give medical advice but relay information from medical sources. For more information please visit http://www.nizowear.com. For more information on how to lower your risk of developing breast cancer, visit http://www.breastcancer.org/risk.