Minimizing Breast Cancer Risks

TBS Editor's Note: According to Health Canada , you can substantially reduce your risk of breast cancer by making positive changes to your lifestyle. A comprehensive list of suggestions is listed below. However, it is important to understand that only 20% cancers are causes by poor lifestyle choices. The majority are a result of human made damage to our environment. To fully reduce your risk of all types of cancer more environmental cleanup and government level protection is needed.

The following list has been released by Health Canada.

  • Be physically active. Studies show that even moderate physical activity can reduce your risk by 30 to 40 percent. Choose an exercise or an activity that makes you feel warm and breathe harder (such as brisk walking) for 30 to 60 minutes, at least four times a week.

  • Lose excess weight. A 5-kg (about 11 pounds) increase in body weight can be a significant breast cancer risk factor, especially after menopause.

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. A lower-fat diet that includes five to ten servings of fruits and vegetables every day will minimize your risk for several types of cancer, including breast cancer.

  • Limit your intake of alcohol. Women who drink alcohol have a slightly higher risk. The more you drink, the greater your risk. Limit yourself to one drink per day - 12 ounces (340 ml) of beer, 5 ounces (140 ml) of wine or 1.5 ounces (42 ml) of spirits.

  • Breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding seems to offer some women protection against breast cancer and it's good for the baby. Breastfeed for at least four months.

  • Quit smoking. Smoking tobacco and breathing second-hand smoke have been linked to breast cancer. Tobacco smoke is linked to 30 percent of all cancer deaths.

  • Weigh the risks and benefits of taking birth control pills. Taking birth control pills may slightly increase your risk of breast cancer if you are a long term pill user and began taking birth control pills at a young age. Since birth control pills also offer benefits, discuss this with your doctor.

  • Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT can relieve symptoms of menopause. Using HRT for a long time may increase your risk of breast cancer.

  • Limit your exposure to pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals. Follow the warnings and handling procedures in material safety data sheets (MSDS) that are available for most chemicals. Work with your employer to ensure that your workplace has good air quality and that chemicals are properly handled.

If you are a woman between 50 and 69 years of age you should have a screening mammogram (a breast cancer screening x-ray) every two years. In recent years, screening programs and better treatments have helped decrease the number of women who die from breast cancer. See your doctor about breast screening programs available in your province or territory.

Source: Health Canada It's Your Health

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Minimizing Breast Cancer Risks