The world of breast cancer may not touch your life especially if you are still a relatively young woman. However, as many as one out of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their life. If you don’t get this terrible disease, there’s a likelihood that one of your friends or family members may end up diagnosed with breast cancer.

As such, it is important to handle breast cancer risk seriously. First, you’ll want to make sure to take part in a monthly self-exam and visit your primary care doctor every year for a breast exam. Once you hit your 40s, you’ll need to get a yearly mammogram to check for breast cancer as well.

If you think that women are only at risk of breast cancer if they have family history of the disease, think again. Lots of women get diagnosed with breast cancer without an ounce of family history.

“Most commonly, breast cancer is sporadic and most people (85 percent to 90 percent of breast cancer patients) don’t have a family history of breast cancer,” Dr. Deepa Halaharvi, a board-certified general surgeon specializing in breast surgery, told the publication TODAY.

“It’s a common misconception that it’s inherited through a family history. So regular screenings are very important, regardless of what your family history may be. At OhioHealth, we recommend average-risk women begin screening mammograms at age 40.”

Early diagnosis has been shown to save lives. Many women diagnosed with breast cancer often worry whether or not they will survive this disease. However, as many as 91 percent of breast cancer patients at all stages of the disease survive for five years into the future, said Halaharvi.

“Breast cancer is not a death sentence,” Halaharvi explained. “Most people do really well and 5-year survival for all stages of breast cancer is 91 percent. We really need to be catching this at an early stage.”

You will also need to be aware of changes in your breasts. Don’t only focus on potential lumps in your breasts. You’ll need to be aware of dimpling, nipple discharge, and any skin color changes.

“Women should be aware of changes to their breasts such as a palpable mass, skin changes, nipple discharge, skin dimpling, nipple inversion and mass underneath the arms such as enlarged lymph nodes,” Halaharvi stated. “You don’t necessarily need to have a mass to have breast cancer such as inflammatory breast cancer (redness, an orange peel appearance) are seen.”

While early diagnosis could save your life, breast cancer prevention is also hugely important for improving your health. If you want to lower your breast cancer risk, you’ll need to exercise regularly for at least half an hour every day.

You can go on a half-hour walk every day or take up swimming in your local pool. You can get a gym membership or take up a new sport. Whatever fitness choices you make, stick to a regular exercise routine and you’ll reduce your breast cancer risk.

Additionally, be sure to eat a healthy and nutritious plant-based diet. Get fruits and vegetables into every meal. You can add banana slices or a handful of blueberries into your cereal for breakfast.

For lunch, make a nice side salad or add some kale and tomato slices to your turkey sandwich. And be sure to add some steamed broccoli and brussels sprouts to your baked chicken dinner!

Additionally, you can reduce your breast cancer risk by limiting the amount of alcohol you consume. Save that glass of wine or martini for the weekends and you’ll live a healthier and happier life.

“There is good evidence that alcohol increases the risk for breast cancer,” Dr. Freya Schnabel, the director of breast surgery at Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone, told the news source. “Specifically, women who drink at the rate of seven drinks per week have about a 20-percent increase in their risk for breast cancer.”

Both striving for early diagnosis along with reducing breast cancer risk by implementing healthy lifestyle choices are key to saving your life and improving your health.

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