As women, we are all at risk for developing breast cancer. Over the course of a lifetime, one in eight women in the United States will develop the disease. Knowing more about the risks helps us take preventive steps.
Besides certain types of skin cancers, breast cancer is the most diagnosed form of cancer, but there are steps we can take to reduce our risk. In 2011, there were more than 2.6 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
Women need to be proactive in the fight against breast cancer. There are steps to take that can lower your risk of developing this dreaded disease. Get screened regularly! Early detection of breast cancer is the key to surviving the disease. By getting the necessary exams — specifically a mammogram — you can detect breast cancer in its early stages and begin treatment that can save your life.
Control your weight and exercise regularly. Healthy choices in the foods and beverages you consume every day make a big difference. Risk increases for women who are overweight, and this is especially true for women over 50 years old. Alcohol consumption is also a risk factor. The risk of breast cancer increases for those who regularly drink more than an average of one alcoholic beverage per day. Exercise done on a regular basis helps lower breast cancer risk, and physical activity helps control weight and is part of a healthy lifestyle, along with a diet rich in vitamins, minerals and healthy nutrients.
Know your family history as it pertains to breast cancer. If you have a mother, a sister or a daughter who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, speak to your physician about your own risk for developing the disease, and begin making lifestyle changes to reduce the probability that you will develop breast cancer, too.
Before you begin any hormone replacement therapy, learn as much as you can about the risks and the benefits. Many women choose hormone replacement therapy to combat the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. Don’t begin this treatment until you have all the facts and an understanding of the risk factors. It may not be the right choice for you.
Every state has a Comprehensive Cancer Control program that brings together experts on breast cancer, joined with survivors, advocates and other organizations working on ways to prevent and control breast cancer and other cancers. The American Cancer Society’s Making Strides walks are an opportunity to raise awareness about reducing risks, honor breast cancer survivors and raise money to help fight this deadly disease with research, information and services. Making Strides also helps provide access to mammograms for women who need them. Participating in a Making Strides walk means you join in with over one million volunteers with a common purpose: to beat this disease!
Healthy lifestyle changes such as getting more exercise, limiting alcohol and eating healthier are big factors in reducing breast cancer risk.