There are ways to minimize your risk of developing breast cancer: the best approach is to make positive lifestyle changes.
Maintaining a sensible body weight is crucial to reducing cancer risk. A diet higher in vegetables and fruits and lower in carbohydrates, fats and alcohol is excellent for cancer prevention. Developing healthy eating habits is fundamental to living well overall. Portion control is also important in providing long-term weight loss and maintaining an ideal body weight.
Vitamin D is important in bone and breast health. Vitamin D supplements are often recommended to get your body’s daily requirement. Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Coenzyme Q10 are antioxidants that may also contribute to cancer prevention.
Exercise (90 minutes a week minimum) can lower breast cancer risk. Exercise can include many things, including walking, jogging, biking, hiking, dancing, swimming, housework, and playing with your children. Taking stairs instead of elevators, parking farther from the grocery store or office are also easy ways to incorporate exercise in your daily routine.
Alcohol should be consumed only in moderation. For women with multiple risk factors for breast cancer, alcohol should be minimized or eliminated altogether.
Tobacco use is also associated with the development of multiple cancers, including breast cancer. Cigarettes have been proven to be the biggest cause of preventable death in the world.
Know your body. Do self-breast exams monthly so you know what your breasts feel like normally. This will help you recognize when something is abnormal, such as a lump, dimple or nipple discharge. If this occurs, see a medical professional for a full examination. Professional breast exams by a clinician on a yearly basis are important in identifying abnormalities early.
Imaging studies complement breast exams. Yearly mammograms (digital if possible as they show things more clearly) starting at age 40 are recommended. Ultrasounds may be used if masses are identified by physical exam or mammogram and possibly in patients with high risk or dense breasts. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the most accurate imaging test available. MRI is used in women at higher risk for breast cancer, including patients with a personal or strong family history, women with the BRCA gene mutation, or women with extremely dense or cystic breast tissue. MRI may also be useful if mammogram and ultrasound are inconclusive with regards to a breast abnormality.