Breast cancer is a frightening and common disease in America today. We are all at risk, but there are ways that we can work to protect ourselves from the threat.
1. Have a Mammogram
All women between 40 and 49 years old should have a mammogram every one to two years. Since the chance of developing breast cancer rises as a woman gets older, women aged 50 to 70 should have a mammogram every year. Though yearly mammograms may not be able to prevent the disease in all women, it can significantly decrease the risk of dying from breast cancer by catching it early.
2. Minimize Use of Post-Menopausal Hormone Treatment
There are two main benefits of hormone replacement therapy after menopause: relief from hot flashes and protection from osteoporosis. Since there are no treatments as effective as hormones for hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause, many women will need to take them. However, there is now good reason to believe that longer than five years of use increases a woman’s chance of breast cancer. After five years or so, gradually tapering off the hormones is a good idea. For continued bone protection, calcium, vitamin D, and exercise work well. For women with osteoporosis, other medications besides hormones can be prescribed.
3. Have Children Earlier (If Possible)
Although this may not necessarily be a reasonable choice for some women, having a first child at an earlier age (around age 30) decreases the risk of breast cancer.
Breast feeding for at least six months seems to decrease the risk of breast cancer
5. Keep Extra Pounds Off
Maintaining a healthy weight throughout the adult years may reduce the chances of developing breast cancer after menopause. The best way to do this is by exercising and eating a smart and balanced diet. Regular physical activity may also independently decrease risk.
6. Go Easy on The Alcohol
Limiting the amount of alcohol consumed may also reduce risk. For those who like to drink, taking a multivitamin with folic acid may help to balance out the increased risk.