October is the breast cancer awareness month. To prevent breast cancer, we must be aware of the risk factors associated with it.
There are a number of risk factors, such as a family history of breast cancer, that you cannot change.
Nonetheless, several risk factors are easily avoidable. The avoidable breast cancer risk factors are usually associated with your lifestyle. Lifestyle changes could help to lower the risk of this deadly disease.
Obesity during adulthood, particularly after menopause, increases the breast cancer risk. A woman with body mass index above 29.9 is considered obese. Before menopause, most of the estrogen is secreted by the ovaries, whereas a small amount of this hormone is produced by the fat cells. However, after menopause, estrogen secretion ceases in the ovaries. The fat cells now become the primary producers of estrogen. The excess estrogen produced by the fat cells enhances the risk of this disease. Compared to fat in the hips and limbs, excess belly fat poses a greater breast cancer risk.
Women who avoid breast-feeding their babies might have greater chance of developing breast cancer in the future. Researchers believe that breast-feeding for at least one year could significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Lack of exercise
A sedentary lifestyle could increase the risk of breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, 45 to 60 minutes of physical activity, at least for 5 days a week, could reduce the breast cancer risk.
Hormone replacement therapy
Despite the benefits of hormone replacement therapy after menopause in reducing the symptoms of menopause, preventing osteoporosis and heart disease, long term HRT could increase breast cancer risk.
Women who are currently using oral contraceptive pills might have greater breast cancer risks. However, the risk of the disease declines after a woman stops using the birth control pills.
Compared to non-drinkers and moderate drinkers, women who drink 2 to 5 glasses of wine everyday have greater risk of developing breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, women should restrict alcohol drinking to one drink per day.
Vitamin D deficiency
Studies have found that vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of breast cancer. To prevent breast cancer, eat foods rich in vitamin D and expose yourself to the sunlight for few minutes everyday.