6 Habits to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Written by Dr. Veena Madhankumar and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team

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Most women are more worried about developing breast cancer than heart diseases. Evidence suggests that breast cancer rates in developed countries are much higher than women in less developed countries. Contrary to what women believe, most types of breast cancer are not inherited. A majority of them are due to changes in the breast cells due to various environmental and lifestyle factors during the person’s lifetime.

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While some hereditary and genetic factors are beyond our control, the good news is that healthy lifestyle changes and other habits that are listed below can lower the risk of you getting breast cancer.

1) Cut Back on Alcohol

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The more you drink, the higher will be the risk of developing breast cancer. Avoiding alcohol consumption completely is advisable, but if that is not possible, limit your consumption to less than one drink a day. Simultaneously, moderate drinking is good for the heart, but even small quantities of alcohol increase breast cancer risk. So if you binge drink, you should consider quitting or at least cutting it down.

2) Maintaining a Healthy Weight

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Being overweight increases not only the risk of breast cancer but also various other types of cancer, especially in postmenopausal women. Try to maintain a healthy weight by consuming a balanced diet and exercising, which automatically lowers your breast cancer chance. Excess weight gain in women after the age of 45 to 50 or after menopause is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.

3) Exercise and Stay Active

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Staying physically active helps maintain a healthy weight, which in turn prevents breast cancer. Remember to do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise every week, including strength training for two days a week. Exercise regularly and keep breast cancer away.

4) Quit Smoking

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Everyone knows how unhealthy smoking is. It increases the risk of stroke, heart diseases, and almost 15 different types of cancer, including breast cancer. Smoking lowers the quality of life and makes you age faster. These are more than enough reasons for you to quit smoking. Studies have shown smoking to increase the risk of breast cancer more in premenopausal women.

5) Postmenopausal HRT

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Studies claim that the long-term use of hormonal supplements in postmenopausal women increases breast cancer risk. Hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) helps prevent chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis and heart diseases. But, Estrogen-only HRT, if taken more than 10 years, increases the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The exact link between Estrogen pills and breast cancer is unknown, but higher estrogen levels in postmenopausal women have been shown to facilitate the growth of breast cancers. The best thing to do is to take HRT for the shortest duration possible.

6) Avoid Contraceptive Pills if You Smoke

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Contraceptive or birth control pills have various health benefits and risks. Recent research suggests that contraceptive pills slightly increase the risk of breast cancer, but reduces the risk of ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and colon cancer. This risk goes away after the woman stops taking the pill. Smoking while on birth control pills not only increases these risks but also makes you more susceptible to heart attacks and strokes.

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