Saturday, February 24, 2018

Minimize Your Risk for Breast Cancer

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by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner

Let Breast Cancer Awareness Month be a reminder to diligently take preventative measures. Early detection is lifesaving …

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in American women. And, it is second only to lung cancer as cause of cancer-related deaths in American women. Practice preventative measures and minimize risk factors. You cannot change genetics or biology. You can strive for a protective lifestyle.

Exercise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists exercise as a top defense against breast cancer.  A minimum of four hours of weekly exercise is advised. A commitment to exercise helps maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight is a risk factor for breast cancer and other diseases. Excessive weight gain or obesity that occurs later in life (after menopause) is especially dangerous. It is easier to gain weight in that life stage, which emphasizes the need to prioritize midlife fitness.

Maintain a healthy weight with an active lifestyle.
Maintain a healthy weight with an active lifestyle.

Schedule time for formal exercise, and incorporate more physical activity into your life. Take short daily walks, use the stairs, cultivate a garden, create a stretching routine to execute at your desk or while watching TV. Limit sedentary activities and live a healthier, more robust life.

Studies indicate exercise for weight control and reduction in body mass may actually reduce the risk of recurrence for breast cancer patients and, ultimately, decrease breast cancer mortality. In addition to its preventative qualities, fitness can be a life-changing tool throughout all stages of breast cancer.

Consider the Source

Before you eat it, spray it, or breathe it, practice awareness. In a world where convenience rules, so much of life is processed and packaged. From the food we consume to the ready-wipes we quickly swipe on all surfaces, chemicals are a daily part of modernity.  Try to reduce (or eliminate) processed foods from your diet. Avoid toxins and harsh chemicals, which are known carcinogens.

Investigate your choices in food and household products.
Investigate your choices in food and household products.

Be a label reader, not only in what you eat but the products you regularly use. Scientific studies have advanced enough to specify which chemicals are most carcinogenic to which specific body organs and functions. The target-organ system is determined by observance of where a toxic substance affects an organ at the lowest dose.

As for the source of your nutrition, it is best to get most nutrients from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Consistent scientific evidence does not indicate a diet rich in plant sources provides specific protection against breast cancer. However, it does help reduce risk against other cancers and diseases. Along with regular exercise, diets abundant in plant sources help maintain a healthy weight, a key factor in breast cancer prevention.

Alcohol only should be enjoyed in moderation. This includes the sometimes health-touted red wine. The more alcohol consumed, the higher the risk for breast cancer. Smoking and breast cancer continue to be linked in studies, especially in younger women (pre-menopausal).

Be Vigilant about Detection

Live!
Live!

Schedule diagnostic testing, such as mammograms, according to your physician’s recommendations. Routine check-up schedules depend on risk factors, genetics, and age. Perform self-exams monthly. Observe shape and appearance for changes, including skin. Get a clinical exam annually by your physician.

Many women avoid these tests, citing everything from lack of time to fear. Make your health a priority. You owe it to yourself and those you love.

Sources

Mayoclinic.org

CDC.gov

Image Credits

Awareness rose and ribbon (introductory photo): flickr.com/photos/70626035@N00/10083356344/

Sherlock hat and yogurt: flickr.com/photos/roland/5718889605/

Survivor Jenny Mealing: flickr.com/photos/jennifrog/3512514370/

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