Approximately 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of a lifetime. Since breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among U.S. women, it’s important to stay informed about warning signs and risk factors to make better decisions about your breast health.

Although the lifetime breast cancer risk for U.S. women is about 12%, individual risk factors can increase risk for developing breast cancer. Some individual risk factors such as age, genetics, and medical history are outside of one’s control. However, there are risk factors that can be modified such as alcohol consumption, weight, smoking, diet, exercise, and stress.

Good Health Matters

Staying healthy throughout your life can reduce breast cancer risk and improve chances of survival if it occurs. Dietitians suggest keeping body weight in a healthy range for height and frame, eating more than 5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day, eating foods high in omega 3 fatty acids, and avoiding trans fats. The American Cancer Society recommends 45 minutes- 60 minutes of exercise for 5 days a week or more. It is also important to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum since alcohol limits the liver’s ability to control estrogen blood levels. Reducing stress and anxiety and trying to find joy and comfort in life may strengthen the immune system and enhance overall quality of life.

Don’t put things off!

Early detection is the key to breast cancer prevention. Early screenings can save lives and increase treatment options. Getting a regular screening is the most reliable way to find breast cancer early. Remember to discuss with your healthcare provider when you should have your screening done and which screening tool is best for you. Take a look at the tip box for screening recommendations from the American Cancer Society for individuals with an average breast cancer risk.

Breast Care Recommendations:

Mammograms- best screening tool for breast cancer at this time. Women may begin mammogram screenings as early as age 40. Yearly mammograms should begin after age 45. After age 55, it is recommended to have mammograms every other year.

Breast Self Awareness- Become familiar with how breasts look and feel through a breast self- examination. Report any pain or lumps to your healthcare provider.

Sources: Breastcancer.org, Cancer.org, CDC.gov. Lifework Strategies, Adventist HealthCare. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.