Tips to Lower Breast Cancer Risk

bike womanIf you’re worried about getting breast cancer, should you rip the wires out of your bras or trash them altogether? The answer to this one is no. Although there have been suggestions that underwire bras could cause cancer, the research has not supported a connection.

Other things you don’t need to worry about include:

  • Getting breast implants. It won’t increase your risk of breast cancer, but you should still get screening regularly.
  • Being left handed. For some unknown reason, breast cancer is five percent more likely to occur in the left breast, but it’s not connected to which hand is dominant.
  • Experiencing trauma or injury to the breast.
  • Having your breast compressed during a mammogram. In fact, getting an annual breast cancer screening exam after age 40 is an important part of monitoring your health.
  • Drinking coffee or tea.
  • Using cell phones.

Although it won’t help to change out your bra, hang up your cell phone or give up your morning joe, there are things you can do to decrease your risk of getting breast cancer including:

Maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk, especially if the weight gain occurs after menopause.

Drinking in moderation. The more you drink, the greater your risk. The common guideline is to limit alcohol intake to one drink a day.

Taking a hike or do some other physical activity. Try to do 2.5 hours a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity plus strength training at least twice a week.

Not smoking or giving it up if you do. Smoking has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, especially in younger, pre-menopausal women.

You may have an increased risk due to your family connections. Although there is nothing you can do to change that, being aware of it can help in monitoring your health. You are considered to be at greater risk if your mother or another close relative has had breast cancer, especially if it occurred when she was young.

For all women, the American Cancer Society recommends getting a mammogram annually at the age of 40 as the best way to identify cancer early when it is most treatable.

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