If you keep hearing about breast cancer in the news or have had a friend suffer from the disease, you may be wondering how to ensure you never have to face the same situation. While there are many factors that may contribute to breast cancer including those you cannot control, there are certain methods you can take to prevent the disease. Breast cancer prevention is a real possibility for every woman out there.

First, let’s discuss the factors you are unable to control when it comes to contracting the disease. The Mayo Clinic outlines the risk factors behind breast cancer, which involve older age, being female, family history of the disease, personal history of breast cancer, inherited genetic risks, earlier age when beginning your first period, having a first child after age 30, and never being pregnant.

While these factors cannot be truly changed, breast cancer prevention is possible for women worried about their health. The Mayo Clinic describes eight steps that women can take to prevent breast cancer. These steps include:

  1. Limiting alcohol intake
  2. Quitting or not starting smoking
  3. Managing weight
  4. Exercising and keeping fit
  5. Breastfeeding their infants
  6. Avoiding hormone replacement therapy
  7. Avoiding environmental toxins and radiation exposure
  8. Incorporating a healthy diet

The higher the rate of alcohol intake among men and women, the higher their risk of breast cancer. The clinical recommendation for alcohol intake is less than one drink per day in order to keep your risk of breast cancer low. Smoking is also associated with an increased risk of cancer including breast, bladder and lung cancers. Breast cancer prevention involves avoiding smoking especially in premenopausal women.

Obesity or being overweight is also associated with breast cancer diagnoses especially later in life after menopause. Managing and controlling your weight is key to breast cancer prevention. As such, keeping active and exercising can help women keep their weight down.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least two and a half hours of moderate aerobic exercise every week. If you can go on a walk for half an hour every day, you’ll surpass that quota. Also, the longer a new mother breastfeeds her infant, the lower her risk of breast cancer.

Hormone replacement therapy often completed in the midst of menopause has been associated with a rise in breast cancer risk. Combination hormone therapy that goes on for three to five years, specifically, has a higher breast cancer risk. If you are facing difficult menopausal symptoms, talk to your doctor about other options besides hormone therapy.

Additionally, breast cancer prevention includes avoiding environmental pollutions and radiation exposure. Medical imaging technology often uses high doses of radiation. It is vital for women to only undergo these type of procedures only when medically necessary and not to overuse the services.

Lastly, a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet, which includes olive oil, fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, could help women prevent breast cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Women of all ages interested in breast cancer prevention could achieve their goal by following these key eight steps.

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