If you think you can’t get breast cancer because it doesn’t run in your family, think again. Most women with breast cancer have no family history of it and are not considered high risk. But there are ways to protect yourself:
1. Stop smoking. People who smoke for 10 years or more are at least 16 percent more likely than nonsmokers to develop breast cancer, according to a recent study.
2. Maintain a healthy weight. Extra pounds increase the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer and recurrence of breast cancer, as demonstrated by numerous studies.
3. Limit alcohol to three or four drinks a week. Research suggests that even one drink per day can raise breast cancer risk.
4. Exercise regularly. Just two to three hours of exercise a week not only helps to maintain a healthy weight, but also can lower estrogen levels and boost immunity. And if you do get breast cancer, keep moving. One study shows that breast cancer survivors who exercise at least two hours a week have a 40 percent lower risk of dying from the disease.
5. Get a mammogram. Research shows that the risk from exposure to mammogram radiation is even lower than previously thought. Newer digital mammograms use about 22 percent less radiation than traditional imaging. Digital mammography’s sharper images reduce the need for repeat tests, too.
If discomfort keeps you from scheduling a mammogram, read next Friday’s blog post to learn how mammograms can prevent pain in the long run. In the meantime, do you ever struggle to follow stay-healthy advice? Share your tips for staying on track in the comments.