The most commonly diagnosed cancer for women in Australia, breast cancer will affect nearly 1 in 8 women in their lifetimes. While a very small percentage of men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, those most at risk are women. Risk also increases with age, so older women are typically more at risk than their younger counterparts. Family medical history also plays a role; women who have a close female relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50 may be at greater risk of developing the disease themselves. Research is still ongoing regarding the possible causes of breast cancer. But while we don’t know the cause, and while you cannot change your family history, gender, or age, there are a few key steps you can take to reduce your risk as much as possible, and give yourself the best chance to prevent this disease.
1. Move your body regularly.
Ample research suggests that regular exercise can reduce your breast cancer risk, as well as help prevent the onset of other conditions. Even moderate exercise a few times per week has been shown to have tremendous benefits. As a bonus, an exercise habit can help you lose weight: another factor shown to contribute to a reduced breast cancer risk.
2. Limit your alcohol consumption.
Numerous studies have linked alcohol consumption to an increased breast cancer risk. Excessive alcohol intake can negatively impact other areas of your health, so it is always wise to consume in moderation. Experts suggest no more than two standard glasses per day is appropriate.
3. Maintain a healthy weight.
Being overweight or obese is connected to a higher breast cancer risk, as well as an increased chance of heart disease, diabetes, and other ailments. Eating right and exercising regularly can help you lose weight and achieve a healthy size for your body type. Maintaining a healthy weight is especially important for postmenopausal women.
4. Breastfeed your children.
There are a number of studies that associate breastfeeding with a lowered breast cancer risk. It is most advantageous to breastfeed for longer periods, preferably one year or more, and beneficial to breastfeed multiple children. Other studies have found a link between having children and a reduced breast cancer risk. However, some research argues that having your first child after the age of 30 slightly increases your risk.
5. Get checked.
Alongside the above lifestyle choices, it is vital to have your breasts checked regularly. You should habitually perform a monthly self-exam, and regular assessment by your doctor. Women over the age of 40 should schedule annual mammograms, or if you have a mother, sister, or daughter who has been diagnosed, you may opt to begin mammograms sooner.
At Vision XRAY, your care is our priority. If you’d like further information on self breast exams and screening options such as ultrasound, mammography, or MRI, please contact us today. We also offer comprehensive exams at our dedicated Australian Breast Centres. Please do not hesitate to contact our radiology team. We are happy to speak with you and address any concerns you may have regarding your breast health.