Breast Cancer Prevention Tips

Just being a woman is the biggest risk factor for developing breast cancer.

First mentioned in Egypt around 1600 BC, Breast cancer is the type of cancer that starts off in the inner lining of milk ducts. It is not fetal at the early stage but becomes very deadly when it spreads to other parts of the body including the lymph nodes, blood, bones, lungs and other organs.

Here are 10 cancer prevention tips 

1. Watch your weight – Maintaining a healthy weight is something we all must endeavor to do. Being overweight can predispose you to many different cancers, including breast cancer, especially after menopause.

2. Exercise – Exercise is the principal component of good health, and women who exercise regularly or for at least 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer. You can also keep your weight in check when you exercise regularly.

3.Healthy diet – A healthy diet can help lower the risk of breast cancer. Eat more of fruits and vegetables but less of alcohol. If you have a poor drinking habit you should tone it down. People who drink heavily have a greater risk of liver disease, heart disease, sleep disorders, stroke, depression and many other types of cancer.

4. Don’t Smoke – “Smokers are liable to die young”. I am sure you’ve seen this caveat on the pack of cigarettes sold in Nigeria. Smoking can cause you fetal damages like heart diseases, stroke, and different kind of cancers – including breast cancer. Read more on the dangers of smoking here.

5. Breastfeed your baby – Breastfeeding is not only important for a baby but can also lower cancer risk especially when a mother breastfeeds for at least a year and six months. This is because breastfeeding lowers the levels of some cancer-related hormones in the mother’s body, which can also help reduce her risk of breast cancer. At the end of breastfeeding, the woman gets rid of any cells in the breasts that may have DNA damage. This reduces the risk of breast cancer developing in the future.

6. Stay Away from Birth Control Pills – Birth control pills have both risks and benefits. The younger a woman is, the lower the risks are. While women are taking birth control pills, they have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. This risk goes away quickly, though, after stopping the pill. The risk of stroke and heart attack is also increased while on the pill – particularly if a woman smokes. However, long-term use can also have important benefits, like lowering the risk of ovarian cancer, colon cancer and uterine cancer – not to mention unwanted pregnancy – so there’s also a lot in its favor. But, If you’re very concerned about breast cancer, avoiding birth control pills is one option you must take.

7. Avoid Post-Menopausal Hormones – To prevent chronic diseases, like osteoporosis and heart diseases, post-menopausal hormones shouldn’t be taken for a long time. Studies show they have a mixed effect on health, increasing the risk of some diseases and lowering the risk of others, and both estrogen only hormones and estrogen-plus-progestin hormones increase the risk of breast cancer. If women do take post-menopausal hormones, it should be for the shortest time possible.

8. Tamoxifen and Raloxifene for Women at High Risk – Although not commonly thought of as a “healthy behavior,” taking the prescription drugs tamoxifen and Raloxifene can significantly lower the risk of breast cancer in women at high risk of the disease. Approved by the FDA for breast cancer prevention, these powerful drugs can have side effects, so they are not good for everyone. If you think you’re at high risk, talk to your doctor to see if tamoxifen or Raloxifene may be right for you.

9. Know Your Family History – It’s important for women to know their family history so that they can take special steps to protect themselves. A woman  may be at high risk of breast cancer if she have a mother or sister who developed breast or ovarian cancer, especially at an early age, or if she have multiple family members (including males) who developed breast, ovarian or prostate cancer. A doctor or genetic counselor can help her understand her family history of the disease.
10. Screening – Despite some controversies, studies show that breast cancer screening with mammography saves lives. It doesn’t help prevent cancer, but it can help find cancer early when it’s most treatable.

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