Each provides useful information about ways to improve your lifestyle to reduce your risk, the importance of regular screening and any changes to your breasts can may require further examination.
Daily Habits that can Reduce your Risk of Breast Cancer
Dr Deborah Pfeiffer, a senior medical officer with BreastScreen Queensland, says there are three major lifestyle factors associated with an increased risk of breast cancer: diet-induced obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and high alcohol intake.
“It’s never too late to improve your lifestyle habits,” as Dr Pfeiffer says. “Lose weight, cut back your drinking and become more active.”
Manage your weight
Obese or overweight women are more likely to develop cancer, which is why it’s imperative to maintain a healthy weight and diet. Dr Pfeiffer says there’s a link between obesity and increased oestrogen levels, and those increased levels can contribute to the risk of breast cancer.
“Fat tissue stores and releases the female hormone oestrogen, which contributes to the growth of endometrial or uterine cancer, and to oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, with obese persons tending to have higher blood and tissue levels of oestrogen,” she explains. “Losing weight, which is principally excess fat, assists in reducing insulin and oestrogen levels.”
Queensland Health offers information and support for women who’re keen to lead a healthier lifestyle.
BreastScreen Queensland recommends 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity every day. It could be something as simple as a brisk walk, a yoga class, or laps in the pool. If you find it difficult to get motivated, participate in group or team activities so you have someone with you to encourage you to get up and moving.
Reduce alcohol intake
Having more than one standard alcoholic drink per day can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer due to its impact on oestrogen levels and hormones associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Studies have showed that compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15 per cent higher risk of breast cancer.
“The risk of alcohol-related cancers, mainly breast cancer, increases, even within the range of up to one alcoholic drink a day,” Dr Pfeiffer says.
Although lifestyle factors play a vital role in influencing your risk of developing breast cancer, the single most effective way to reduce your risk of a fatal breast cancer is with regular breast screens. Queensland Health recommends women aged between 50 and 74 attend a breast screen once every two years.
Dr Pfeiffer says screen-detected cancers tend to have a more favourable outcome because they are often discovered at a much earlier stage than self-detected lumps. “Until we know what causes breast cancer or how to prevent it, our best means of treating it is to detect it early,” she says.
You can book your free breast screen appointment online at Breast Screen Queensland
or by calling 13 20 50. No doctor’s referral is necessary.
A breast screen only takes 30 minutes and is a must every 2 years for women aged between 50 and 74.