Breast Cancer Awareness – Prevention

The exact causes of Breast Cancer are not known – cancer comes about due to a myriad of conditions and situations. There is generally no one thing. However, there are preventative actions that you can take to lessen the risk of breast cancer. They include:

  • Maintain a healthy weight range and include regular exercise. Higher body weights can increase the oestrogen load in the body and contribute to the development of breast cancer;
  • Reduce alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption (consuming more than the recommended daily intake of alcohol) increases the risk of breast cancer. This may be due to alcohol adversely affecting the metabolism (excretion) of excess oestrogen from our bodies. Excess oestrogen can be a fuel source for cancer cells, therefore limit your alcohol intake to no more than one standard drink per day (for women) and no more than two per day for men;
  • Have a varied and whole food diet. A diet high in processed foods, saturated fats and low fibre are associated with inflammation in the body, making the environment more conducive to cancer growth. Following a diet like the Mediterranean diet will help to keep inflammation low, reduce the risk of insulin resistance and ensure proper hormonal balance; and
  • For ladies – having a child before 35 years and breastfeeding (for a year or more) is also associated with a lower incidence of breast cancer.

Unfortunately, there are some risk factors that cannot be prevented. These include:

  • Genetics – BRCA1 and BRCA2. If possible, know what your family medical history (and ethnicity) is. Ask if you have any close relatives (grandmother, aunt etc) who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. If you do, you can ask for genetic testing. If positive for these gene mutations, you can then plan surveillance accordingly;
  • Early menarche – women who have their first period before 12 are more at risk of developing breast cancer, as are those that start menopause at a later date. This is due to possibly longer exposure to oestrogen; and
  • Age – alas, the older we get the more susceptible we are to cancer.

So, what can we do? Maintain a healthy body weight, limit your alcohol intake, eat a diet that is based on whole foods and good fats, and if so inclined and capable, have children before 35 years old. For those that have the risk factors that we can’t change, be aware of them, ensure that you regularly check your breasts and implement the other recommendations for those preventable risk factors.

If you need any assistance with helping to your risks of breast cancer, please book in for an appointment.

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