8 Ways to Lower Your Breast Cancer Risk

HEALTH  |  October 15, 2016
  • 1. BE ACTIVE
    1 / 8 1. BE ACTIVE

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    Pre- and post-menopausal women should stay physically active and even light activities, such as walking, help. Moderate-intensity activities include brisk walking, leisurely cycling, yoga, dancing as well as gardening. Vigorous activities include jogging, swimming and aerobics. High levels of these activities during adolescence may provide extra protection.

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  • 2. KNOW YOUR FAMILY CANCER HISTORY
    2 / 8 2. KNOW YOUR FAMILY CANCER HISTORY

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    About 5 to 10 per cent of breast cancer is caused by abnormal genes that have been passed on. People in this high-risk group should start screening a decade before the age that the family member was diagnosed with breast cancer. So, if your mother was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 40, you should start your screening at 30. A blood test can be done to screen for inherited breast cancer genes BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. However, the test is expensive – it is not subsidised or covered by MediShield. If the results are positive, there are a few options. You can choose to be screened more frequently to catch any cancer occurrence early. Some women make the difficult decision of having preventive mastectomies.

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  • 3. KEEP YOUR WEIGHT IN CHECK
    3 / 8 3. KEEP YOUR WEIGHT IN CHECK

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    Being overweight after menopause raises a woman’s risk of breast cancer. After menopause, a woman’s estrogen – which can promote breast cancer cell growth – comes mainly from fat tissue, instead of the ovaries. Fat cells can produce estrogen. Extra fat cells means extra estrogen. The incidence of both breast cancer and obesity in women is on the rise but there is no local data to correlate the two yet.

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  • 4. BREASTFEED
    4 / 8 4. BREASTFEED

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    Breastfeeding helps to protect against breast cancer, if it is done for at least six months to a year. A woman’s chances of developing breast cancer becomes lower the longer she continues with breastfeeding. Most women who breastfeed experience hormonal changes during lactation that delay their menstrual periods. This reduces their lifetime exposure to oestrogen. Breastfeeding also causes breast cells to mature. Some studies show that mature cells are more resistant to being transformed into cancer cells.

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  • 5. EAT FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
    5 / 8 5. EAT FRUIT AND VEGETABLES

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    Many studies found a lower risk of breast cancer in those who have a high intake of fruit and vegetables. These are rich in antioxidants, which tend to fight cancer cells. For overall well-being, a balanced diet is best.

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  • 6. DRINK MODERATELY, IF AT ALL
    6 / 8 6. DRINK MODERATELY, IF AT ALL

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    One drink a day, such as a can of beer, is considered a safe limit for women. But if drunk regularly, this can still put one at an increased risk of breast cancer. As alcohol may raise estrogen levels,women should take no more than two drinks a week.

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  • 7. DO NOT SMOKE
    7 / 8 7. DO NOT SMOKE

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    Studies show that breast cancer rates are higher among women smokers and the risk goes up for those who have been smoking for more than 10 years.

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  • 8. GO FOR SCREENING
    8 / 8 8. GO FOR SCREENING

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    This helps to detect cancer early when it is most treatable. Stage 0 breast cancer usually requires only surgery while the later stages of breast cancer usually involve a combination of treatments, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and oral medications, in addition to surgery. Women above 40 are advised to go for yearly mammograms while those above 50 should get screened every two years.

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