3 Ways to Help Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer
What makes breast cancer so scary to us as women is that it feels like a disease over which we have very little control. Granted, some elements of breast cancer risk are out of our hands, but it’s also true that there are several powerful actions that we can take to protect our breast health.
The most important of these actions is early detection in the form of regular mammograms. Getting a mammogram yearly—or more often, if your health care professional suggests it—dramatically improves your chances of beating breast cancer should the test reveal it. If a mammogram catches breast cancer before it has spread to nearby lymph nodes or beyond the breast, a woman’s 5-year survival rate is 99 percent. The American Cancer Society1 (ACS) recommends that you get a mammogram every year beginning at age 40.
Let’s face it: Mammograms don’t rank high on most women’s list of favorites, but don’t use a little discomfort or a busy schedule excuses to skip your test. It’s important that you do not miss a mammogram. Take advantage of the ACS’s free Breast Screening Reminder Tool. Go to their website, fill out a brief form, and on the first day of your birth month, the ACS will e-mail you a reminder of the screening tests you should get based on your age and other factors.
In the meantime, take action to prevent breast cancer from springing up in the first place. The ACS recommends these three top strategies.
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Research2 shows that women who are overweight, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) higher than 25, are at greater risk for developing breast cancer than women who maintain a healthy weight. A study that analyzed data from more than 67,000 women aged 50 to 79 over several years finds that as weight increases so does breast cancer risk, with women at a BMI above 35 having an 80 percent higher risk than women at a healthy weight.
Action plan: Make it a priority to maintain a healthy weight by consuming the right number of calories for your body and lifestyle. Follow a healthy eating plan that consists of vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains, and be sure to keep an eye on your portion sizes. Exercise regularly with a full body workout like the Curves Circuit to get in shape and lose pounds if you are currently overweight or maintain a healthy weight. To prevent unwanted pounds from sneaking up on you, weigh yourself periodically at home or at the gym.
2. Exercise Regularly
More and more research3 shows that regular physical activity like engaging in the Curves Circuit may reduce your risk of breast cancer and lower the chance of recurrence. And you already know that exercise helps you manage a healthy weight and can help prevent heart disease and diabetes and confers many other benefits such as stress relief and a brighter mood. If physical activity isn’t a priority in your weekly routine, you’re missing out on the physical and mental health benefits of exercise. It’s time to start thinking about getting in shape with a regular workout plan.
Action plan: At Curves you get both a total-body strength workout plus cardio in only 30 minutes, and with several classes to choose from—Cardio, Boxing, Body Basics, and Balance—there’s never a dull moment. Pen three or four Curves workouts into your calendar every week.
3. Limit Alcoholic Drinks
Studies4 consistently show that women who have more than 1 alcoholic drink a day have a greater risk for certain cancers, including breast cancer, according to the ACS. Researchers don’t know the physiology behind this connection but go on to say that routinely having more than 1 or two drinks per day been linked to a slight increase in cancer.
One drink equals the following:
- 12 ounces of beer (153 calories)
- 5 ounces of wine (125 calories)
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (96 calories before it’s mixed into a cocktail)
Of course, eliminating alcoholic beverages can help your weight-management efforts as well.
Action plan: Choose sparkling water with lime, lemon, or fresh berries instead.
Don’t leave your life up for grabs. Take charge and stand strong against breast cancer with regular mammograms and healthy living.