12 Ways I am Lowering my Breast Cancer Risk

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month  may be over, but it is vital that we continue to be vigilant all throughout the year.

There is not a known genetic risk for breast cancer in my family, at least not that we know of yet. Even if there were, there is not much that can be done about genetics. One study even said that left handedness may be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Well, there is not much I can do about being left-handed either. There are, however, many things I can start or continue to do to lower the chances of getting breast cancer. Are they a guarantee? Absolutely not. Yet in general I am a big believer that if it can’t hurt but might help, it is our obligation to give it a shot.

So, with that said, here is how I am lowering my breast cancer risk:

12 Ways to Lower (or at least try to lower) the Risk of Breast Cancer

Not smoking. I was never a smoker, unless you count those three weeks in seventh grade. (Sorry, Mom.) Smoking increases one’s chances for developing breast cancer. It has a whole lot of other negative consequences too. Not to mention that it just smells kind of gross.

Avoiding red meat. A study out of Great Britain found that eating red meat increases a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer. This is another one that is easy for me, having sworn off red meat back in seventh grade and avoiding it ever since.

Keeping my weight in check. It has long been known that fattier breast tissue is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. If keeping my weight on the lower side is going to help reduce the risk of getting breast cancer, then that is good enough incentive for me.

Taking vitamins and calcium supplements. In addition to vitamin D, taking multi-vitamins and calcium supplements appear to reduce the risk of breast cancer. One study showed that vitamin supplements can reduce the risk of breast cancer by up to 30% and calcium supplements can reduce the risk by up to 40%.

Making sure I get vitamin D (also known as sunshine). Vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb calcium and maintain normal blood levels of both calcium and phosphorus. It can be found in many foods, including several types of fish, eggs, cod liver oil. (Most of my vitamin D intake comes from eggs.) Many items in the dairy section are also fortified with vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight aids in body’s production of vitamin D. It is thought that as little as 10 minutes of daily exposure can be helpful. Studies show that vitamin D may induce a tumor suppressing protein that can inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells.

Eating my veggies. Vegetable consumption has been associated with a lower risk of a certain type of breast cancer known as estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancer. I am lowering my breast cancer risk quite a bit this year, having joined a local organic CSA.

Eating organic foods and using chemical-free products. I am a firm believer that the rise in allergies, cancer, asthma, and chronic diseases can be at least in part attributed to the chemicals that we are consuming. So I am reducing this potential concern for myself and my family by eating organic and using chemical-free products on our bodies and in our home whenever possible.

Getting regular exercise. We all know that exercise is important for weight control and cardiovascular health. And besides being good for you, it can be great fun! For the past year or so I have taken up spinning, and absolutely look forward to each and every class. Women who do regular moderate to vigorous exercise also have a reduced risk of breast cancer. In fact, physically active women are up to 25% less likely to get breast cancer.

Drinking coffee. Yes, you read that right. Coffee drinkers have a reduced risk of developing breast cancer. Great news, isn’t it? Drinking coffee can also decrease the risk of a recurrence of breast cancer. Thank you, Joe! I think I will take another cuppa.

Getting mammograms. Admittedly, mammogram day is not exactly my favorite day of the year. Not just because of what they will find or because of the temporary discomfort. I have often wondered whether the repeated radiation does more harm than good. Yet research actually shows that women tend to overestimate the amount of radiation used during mammography. Additionally, digital mammograms are shown to have a significantly lower exposure to radiation than the conventional type of film mammogram. And 3D mammograms, the type provided at four South Jersey Radiology Associates locations, increases early detection of breast cancer thus reducing call backs. For those women (like myself) who have denser breast tissue, this such a wonderful option. 

Doing regular breast self-exams. Too many women with breast cancer found it themselves to not be doing regular self-exams. As I wrote recently, my friend Amanda found hers at the age of 32. She would not have had a mammogram for eight more years. Another friend found hers just a few weeks after having her annual mammogram, because it was in an area that would not have been reached by the x-ray.

Supporting the cause. This one should be proceeded with caution. In other words, watch out for pinkwashing. Instead of buying an item that donates a teeny tiny percentage of proceeds to the cause, why not support a brand that donates 100% of net profits? Better yet, why not make a donation directly to organizations such as the American Cancer Society?

You can also support the cause with your time. This past September I participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk, along with Trina from O’ Boy Organic. It was such an overwhelming, life-changing experience. I was honored to be in the presence of walkers who were there for others as well as those who were there for themselves. I look forward to hearing their stories and being inspired by their unwavering strength again next year.

What about you? Is this something that you are making a conscious effort about? If so, what steps are you taking?

 

Disclosure: Thank you to South Jersey Radiology Associates for sponsoring this post.

SJRA

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Comments

  1. That is such great advice and I hope more women try to follow these simple steps!

  2. Good advice….Congrats on walking the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk. I am checking in for our area walk. The Chicago walk starts by us.

  3. I think it is wonderful you are participating in the 3-day event! Such a worthy cause! You are definitely going to need a foot massage after you have walked all those miles though :)

  4. Great advice!!! It’s scary the amount of friends I know who HAVE it or know someone with it.

  5. thank you for sharing! It’s good to know I follow a lot of this tips

  6. Great advice. You will do awesome on that walk. Interested in how it goes.

  7. I am totally with you on the chemicals! Thanks for all the great tips… sometimes we all need reminders!

  8. Going for my mammogram next Monday! I do all of those thing you mentioned! Thanks for spreading the word. Prevention saves lives!

  9. Thanks for all of these ideas. I didn’t know about some of them!

  10. Way to go! These are all wonderful ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer and just be more healthy too!

  11. Very glad you added organic eating and using clean products! I think this is critical. You can’t regularly expose yourself to lots of toxins without there being a negative effect – just like smoking.

  12. This is a great article. I need to be doing some things so I am grateful that I ran across this list.

  13. I do a lot of these things and never knew they would help me avoid breast cancer. Thanks for sharing all this information!

  14. Such important tips! I get mammograms regularly but definitely need to be better about what I eat.

  15. I worry about this a lot because my mom had it. It looks like she did everything right, but my personal opinion is that her location had something to do with it. She lives in one of the counties with the highest breast cancer rate in the country. Scary!

  16. The more we learn about cancer, the more we learn that in many cases we can effect our risk of developing the disease

  17. Thanks for the tips. There is a history of breast cancer in my family.

  18. Great list! Glad to see that coffee is a good guy. ;)

  19. I did not realize red meat was a contributing factor of breast cancer. These are wonderful tips!

  20. I know I need more Vitamin D in my life. My blood work proved that recently. I also never knew that about red meat.

  21. Angela S says:

    I didn’t know about the red meat study and learned a lot from this post.

  22. Maria Oller says:

    Wow so many thing I was clueless about like red meat and coffee thanks for sharing I think I might start drinking coffee

  23. I’m happy to say that I do most of these things! I do need a mammogram, but I’m still nursing so they told me to wait. It’s on the agenda, though!

  24. I agree with all of the above! And to them I would add; try not to wear too-tight bras, and take cell food supplements. I love Aerobic Oxygen drops, they are amazing! And I’ve recently started drinking coffee every day again, so that’s awesome :)

  25. I want to always be aware of what I can do to keep myself healthier. Taking care of me proactively is so much better than responding to medical issues. I love what you are doing. I want to know more about aerobic oxygen drops, too.

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