Breast cancer prevention starts with healthy living. True, there are some risk factors, such as family history. But there are lifestyle changes you can make, like the ones listed below, to help lower your risk.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Eat right. Try to fuel up with fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Don’t be fooled by the jolt you get from caffeine or high-sugar snack foods. Your energy will wear off, and you could wind up feeling more tired than you did before.
- Eat five or more servings (2 ½ cups) of a variety of vegetables and fruits each day.
- Consume whole-grain foods instead of processed (refined) grains and sugars.
- Limit the amount of red meat that you eat, especially meats that are high in fat.
- Balance the calories that you take in with physical activity.
Women who are not physically active throughout life may have an increased risk of breast cancer. Strenuous exercise for more than four hours per week may help lower breast cancer risk. Also, being active can help women prevent overweight and obesity, which are known risk factors for breast cancer in women who have reached menopause.
Get 30 minutes or more of moderate activity, like walking, running, or biking, at least five days per week. Forty-five minutes or more of moderate to vigorous activity on those days may further reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Getting physical activity can not only help relax your tense muscles but improve your mood. Research shows that physical activity can also help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Do Not Smoke. Limit Alcohol Intake.
Restrict alcohol to no more than one drink per day and no more than two drinks for men.
Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast cancer.
Manage Stress Levels
Everyone has to deal with stress. There are steps you can take to help you handle stress in a positive way and keep it from making you sick. Try these tips from womenshealth.gov to keep stress in check:
- Become a problem solver. Make a list of the things that cause you stress. From your list, figure out which problems you can solve now and which are beyond your control for the moment. From your list of problems that you can solve now, start with the little ones. Learn how to calmly look at a problem, think of possible solutions, and take action to solve the problem. Being able to solve small problems will give you confidence to tackle the big ones. And feeling confident that you can solve problems will go a long way to helping you feel less stressed.
- Be flexible. Sometimes, it’s not worth the stress to argue. Practice compromising and meet people halfway.
- Get organized. Think ahead about how you’re going to spend your time. Write a to-do list. Figure out what’s most important to do and do those things first.
- Relax. Take deep breaths. If you're feeling stressed, taking a few deep breaths makes you breathe slower and helps your muscles relax.
- Take care of your body. Getting enough sleep helps you recover from the stresses of the day. Also, being well-rested helps you think better so that you are prepared to handle problems as they come up. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night to feel rested.
- Share your stress. Talking about your problems with friends or family members can sometimes help you feel better. They might also help you see your problems in a new way and suggest solutions that you hadn’t thought of. Get help from a professional if you need it. If you feel that you can no longer cope, talk to your doctor. She or he may suggest counseling to help you learn better ways to deal with stress. Your doctor may also prescribe medicines, such as antidepressants or sleep aids.
- Help others. Volunteering in your community can help you make new friends and feel better about yourself.
Schedule a Mammogram
Breast cancer screening looks for signs of cancer before a woman has symptoms. Screening can help find breast cancer early, when the chance of successful treatment is best.
Do You Need a Gynecologist?
No matter what stage you’re at in life, seeing a gynecologist is one of the most important things you can do for your well-being. Our caring team of Ob-Gyns at the Bingham Memorial Women’s Center are qualified to care for all women’s healthcare needs. They also understand the challenges facing today’s women and encourage patients to be open with them so they can provide the best care possible. To schedule a consultation with one of our Ob-Gyns please call (208) 782-3900.