October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we’d like to talk a bit about breast cancer risk factors and risk reduction. Studies have shown that breast cancer is due to a combination of factors and some of these – like getting older – are unavoidable. Some women have risk factors and never develop breast cancer, while others have no risk factors and may still develop this disease.
So, what are the risk factors for breast cancer and what can you do to reduce your risk?
Some risk factors are outside of our control and there are no behavioral or environmental changes or medical therapies to change or alter these factors. These are risk factors that you cannot change.
Breast cancer risk factors you cannot change:
- Genetic mutations
- Check out our blog from earlier this month!
- Age, most breast cancers are found in women 50 years old and older
- Family history of breast cancer
- First period younger than 12 years old
- Menopause onset older than 55 years old
- Height taller than 5ft 8in
- Dense breast tissue
- Check out our previous blog!
- History of a benign breast biopsy
- History of radiation therapy to the chest at an age <30 years old
Bresat Cancer risk factors you can change:
Pregnancy – we know that pregnancy has an impact on breast cancer risk and never having been pregnant or a first delivery when you are 35 years old or older increases risk
Weight – older women who are overweight are at higher risk for breast cancer, so being active and losing weight can reduce your risk
Alcohol – studies show that a woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks, so limiting alcohol intake can reduce your risk
Smoking – research shows that smoking is linked with a higher risk for breast cancer in younger, premenopausal women and there may be link between very heavy second-hand smoke exposure and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women
Diet – studies have shown that certain foods can reduce your risk for breast cancer:
- Allium vegetables, such as garlic, onions and leeks
- Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and bok choy
- Green leafy vegetables, such as kale, arugula, spinach, mustard greens and chard
- Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes
- Berry fruits, especially blueberries
- Other fruits, such as peaches, apples and pears
- Fatty fish, such as salmon sardines and mackerel
- Fermented foods, such as yogurt, kimchi, miso and sauerkraut
- Herbs/spices, such as parsley, rosemary, oregano, thyme, turmeric, curry and ginger
Diet – studies have also shown that certain foods can increase your risk for breast cancer and it’s best to limit their intake:
- Sugar added to your diet can increase inflammation and activation of enzymes related to cancer growth and spread
- Fried foods
- Processed meats
- Refined carbohydrates, like white bread and sugary bake goods
Now that you’re armed with the knowledge and tools to help reduce your risk for breast cancer, we encourage you to start or continue those excellent habits, like exercise, eating a healthy diet and working with your Bloom Ob/Gyn provider to review your risk!
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