Breast cancer is one of the top concerns among adult women. According to the National Cancer Institute, a recent Cancer Statistics Review found that 12.4% of U.S. women are likely to develop breast cancer. This means that about 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their life, and this risk goes up with age.
After the age of 40, the risk of developing breast cancer jumps, and while there are some risk factors for breast cancer (like genetics) that we can’t do a lot about, there are other risk factors we do have control over.
With more research, more information is being made available to help prevent your risk of cancer, including breast cancer.
Ten Ways to Lower the Risk of Breast Cancer
Here are ten surprising ways women over 40 can lower their risk of breast cancer. And, if you aren’t over the age of 40, these are still great ways to safeguard your health for the future.
Boost Physical Activity
We all know thatexercise plays a major role in staying healthy, but did you know that it may also help decrease your risk of breast cancer? According to the National Cancer Institute, women who don’t get very much physical activity experience an increased risk of developing breast cancer. So make it a goal to incorporate regular exercise into routine. This can even mean getting out for a daily brisk walk. It can be tempting to feel like we need an hour-long gym workout, but a 15-minutewalk or ayoga session is still so much better than doing nothing.
Support a Healthy Weight
This goes hand in hand with regular exercise. Maintaining ahealthy weight is also an important part of reducing your breast cancer risk. According to the National Cancer Institute, the risk of breast cancer is higher in women who are overweight or obese. Maintaining a healthy weight can be really tough, and there are a lot of factors that influence it — we understand that it’s not always as simple as eating vegetables and exercising, so don’t feel bad if you’re doing those things and still struggling. That being said, diet and exercise do play a big role, so make sure that you’re following ananti-inflammatory whole-food diet if possible, andmove your body regularly for the sake of your overall health.
If You Smoke, Quit
Most of us think of the risk of lung cancer that’s associated with smoking, but it can actually be a leading cause of a number of chronic diseases seen today.Breast Cancer.org states that there is a strong link between second-hand smoking exposure and breast cancer risk inpostmenopausal women. So, ifsecond-hand smoke increases breast cancer risk, just think about what smoking can do to it! If you do smoke, it’simportant to quit, not only to help reduce your risk of breast cancer but to help protect your body from other chronic illnesses as well.
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Too much alcohol is never a good thing, and according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the risk of breast cancer increases with alcohol consumption.
Pay Attention to Your Work Schedule
According to the CDC, working the night shift at work may causehormonal imbalances which may then lead to an increased risk of breast cancer. A recent study also found that nurses working the night shift were at a much higher risk of breast cancer. If you do work the night shift, and are unable to move your shifts around, it’s really important to have regular exams at your primary care doctor, and toget plenty of sleep, if though that might be tough with your work schedule.
Avoid the Birth Control Pill Or Other Hormonal Replacements
Did you know that taking oral contraceptives may increase your risk of developing breast cancer? According to the CDC, this risk may be associated with taking artificial hormones. If you are taking birth control pills or otherhormone replacement drugs, speak with your OBGYN about your concerns and other options.
Boost Your Vitamin D Intake
According toBreastCancer.org, low vitamin D levels may put you at an increased risk of breast cancer. To help support normal breast cell growth, you may want tosupplement with vitamin D3 or try to get outside in the sun each day, or both!
Clean up Your Cosmetics
Certain chemicals found in beauty products may put you at an increased risk of breast cancer. It’s believed that parabens and phthalates are two chemicals that can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer. Stick to safer (and more eco-friendly) options that are paraben and phthalate-free.
Keep Your Diet Clean
We already talked about this a bit, but aside from causing weight gain, consuming unhealthy foods can increase your risk of many types of chronic disease, including breast cancer. You want to stay away from animal products that have been injected with hormones and antibiotics, as well as produce that has beensprayed with pesticides. Strive to stick to grass-fed animal products andorganic produce as much as you can.
More and more research has come out about the dangers of BPA, and how BPA acts as an endocrine disruptor, which can increase your risk of breast cancer. While many companies have gone BPA-free, they are swapping it with BPS, which is not much better. The best way to avoid this endocrine disruptor is to choose glass or stainless steel food storage containers and water bottles.
Filter Your Water
The water we drink from the tap is filled with harmful chemicals and toxins, many of which may increase your risk of breast cancer. You want to choose a filter that will sift out bacteria, toxins, and other impurities in the water you drink. You can go with something more expensive like a reverse osmosis system, or something like the Berkey Water Filter that sits on your kitchen countertop. There’s an option for everyone’s budget, and it’s an easy way to protect your health and prevent exposure to harmful chemicals.
The Bottom Line
Breast cancer risks jump as you get older, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to keep it to a minimum. It mostly comes down to living a healthy lifestyle through clean eating, regular exercise, and some simple modifications like filtering your water, avoiding plastic, and keeping yourskincare routine clean.
With some healthy swaps and a healthy lifestyle, you can safeguard your health, and increase your chances of staying healthy well into your later years.