Breast cancer is at the front of everyone’s mind when it comes to women’s health, particularly as you get older. It is natural to be concerned about the possibility of getting it, as it comes with expensive hospital bills, as well as painful and uncomfortable treatments. It forces you to take time away from your life, and causes you to worry about what may happen to your loved ones if something were to happen to you. Thinking about breast cancer, and what might happen if you got it yourself, can be scary; but, there are many ways to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
Reducing the risks of cancer can not only prolong your life, and reinforce good health, but also provide peace of mind. But how does one prevent breast cancer? It’s such an intimidating topic to think about, that even beginning to consider how to prevent it may be overwhelming. This is especially true if you have risk factors that you cannot control; maybe women in your family tend to be particularly susceptible to breast cancer, or you have other genetic predispositions to it. It is true that these things cannot be changed, but there are still steps you can take to prevent it and lower your overall risk.
Here are Some Life Changing Tips to Decrease your Risk of having a Breast Cancer
1. Use a Cancer Inhibitor:
Many people in this day and age turn their nose up at the idea of natural medicine; it is often dismissed as something “hippies” use, and is thought that it can’t be effective because it wasn’t prescribed by a doctor.
A cancer pathway inhibitor is a natural powder blend which combines the benefits of many different naturally occurring sources, such as herbs, vegetables, and fungi. Cancer pathway inhibitors work by inhibiting, or affecting the function of, the P13K/AKT/MTOR pathway. This is a pathway which is responsible for cell growth and regeneration, and with many cancers, it becomes overactive. When this pathway is inhibited, it slows further growth of cancer cells, should any exist.
It comes as no surprise that it is beneficial to your health to exercise regularly; it is recommended three to four times per week in order to keep the body in its best shape. It may come as a surprise, however, that exercise can help to lower breast cancer risk as well.
Having the right amount of estrogen, the female sex hormone, is essential for overall good health; but when one’s estrogen levels become too high, this can significantly increase one’s risk for breast cancer. Much of the body’s estrogen is stored in fat cells, so having too much body fat can cause your estrogen levels to increase beyond where they should be. Keeping your body fat percentage within a healthy range will decrease your estrogen levels, and decrease your level of risk. It has also been found that postmenopausal women who exercise regularly exhibit lower levels of estrogen than women of the same age who do not; therefore, the risk level of the women who exercise is much lower. The best exercises to increase endorphins are more intense exercises, such as running, pilates, or weight lifting.
Another benefit of exercise is its ability to tremendously decrease feelings of stress, while promoting feelings of well-being and contentment. Stress results in many negative effects to a person’s well-being both physically and mentally. When you exercise, your body produces endorphins. Endorphins are hormones which, when released, function as natural painkillers and elevate mood. The benefits of endorphins are many; they can cause you to feel better about your life overall, and help you to sleep better at night, both of which contribute to stress management.
Another potential risk factor in excessive stress is the fact that, when stressed, our ability to curb unhealthy habits is decreased. A stressed person is more likely to smoke a cigarette, consume alcohol, or allow themselves to overeat, depending on their personal habits; all of these behaviors are significant risk factors, and can all be minimized through exercise.
3. Limiting Your Alcohol Consumption:
Many believe alcohol consumption increases the risks of cancer because alcohol turns directly into fat increasing your estrogen levels and interacting with your hormones. Drinking alcohol doesn’t cause cancer, but women who regularly consume alcohol develop cancer at a much higher rate than those who do not. This is because of the way the body breaks alcohol down once it enters your digestive system; alcohol is broken down into a molecule called acetyl-coA, and while acetyl-coA can be used as a source of energy, it is not a good source of energy, and so it is burned off before sugar and fat are. This is why you may notice a weight gain after a period of regular drinking. The reason for limiting alcohol consumption goes hand-in-hand with the reason you should exercise more–to keep your body fat percentage within a healthy range, and therefore keeping your estrogen levels within a healthy range. The recommendation is to keep your drinking to an absolute minimum but, if you can’t part with it entirely, it is recommended that you stick to one drink per week.
4. Quit Smoking (Or Just Don’t Start):
It is no mystery that smoking causes cancer; one is almost never mentioned without the other. You see television commercials warning smokers about the risk, and there is the surgeon general’s warning posted on every pack of cigarettes. Typically, though, when one thinks of cancer caused by smoking, lung cancer comes to mind as the first, and perhaps only, potential risk. However, smoking has been linked to breast cancer as well, especially the development of breast cancer earlier in a person’s life. It has been shown that women who began smoking in their adolescence, between 12 and 18, are at an elevated risk of developing breast cancer before menopause; the risk is greater the younger the age that the individual began smoking.
Smoking also contributes to the development of breast cancer in that it produces free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules which bond to molecules in the body in order to become stable. When this happens, it causes a process which is called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress damages cells and causes all kinds of negative effects, including signs of aging, such as wrinkles; illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease; as well as the production of cancer cells. Smoking even one cigarette releases free radicals in your body, so there is no safe recommendation. The best thing to do if you do smoke is find the resources you need to quit and do so as soon as possible.
5. Limit Hormonal Therapies:
Hormonal contraceptives, like birth control pills or intrauterine devices (IUDs), have many potential benefits; they can regulate periods, help to clear up acne, and (perhaps the obvious benefit) delay ovulation or cause a woman not to ovulate entirely so that she and her partner can plan for the future effectively. As well as this, birth control pills are often used to treat female reproductive diseases and disorders, such as endometriosis (a disease in which the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, causing pain, abnormal menstruation, and infertility) and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (a hormonal disorder in which cysts are developed in the ovaries, causing obesity, irregular periods, and infertility); for some women, as well as being highly beneficial, a birth control prescription is medically necessary.
Despite these benefits, particularly if you are over 35 years old, it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor and see if there is another contraceptive method that can meet your needs. Hormonal contraceptives can slightly increase your risk of getting breast cancer because very frequently the pill and IUD have estrogen in them.
This is not to say that taking birth control pills or having an IUD will always cause you to be unhealthy or to develop breast cancer. It is, however, slightly possible, and especially if you smoke, drink, have a familial history, or are overweight, you should speak with your doctor in order to find out if you are in fact put at a higher level of risk by using hormonal contraceptives.
Women who are on hormonal therapies for menopause should also look into nonhormonal options as the hormone treatment lasting 3-5 years does increase your risk of breast cancer. The risk for those on combination hormonal therapies is much higher than those who use everyday hormonal birth control options.
6. Make Healthy Eating A Priority:
Everyone has heard the old cliche, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. In this case, it’s true; apples contain chemicals called flavonoids, which protect the body’s cells from oxidative stress and inflammation. Protecting the body from inflammation is one of the most important steps to preventing breast cancer, as inflammation is a major contributor to the development of cancer cells. Other fruits which are rich in flavonoids include citrus fruit, pears, and peaches, along with many vegetables such as spinach, eggplant, and peppers.
Another great food to eat when trying to prevent cancer is kale. Kale contains organosulfur compounds, which have been shown to detoxify the body of carcinogens, which include tobacco smoke, alcohol, and asbestos. These things are possible to take in even if you don’t consume them intentionally, so consuming foods with organosulfur compounds will certainly be helpful to you whether you are currently living a healthy lifestyle or not.
Other foods which are included in the typical “cancer diet”, or diet that is intended to prevent or minimize the effects of cancer, are soybean-based foods, foods which contain a high amount of vitamin D, and foods that are rich in fiber, such as grains and legumes.
7. Take Vitamins to Supplement a Healthy Diet:
While eating a healthy diet will provide you with many of the nutrients needed to keep your body healthy and prevent breast cancer, taking nutritional supplements along with it will ensure that you are getting the best nutrition you possibly can to help your body heal itself. One of the best supplements to take is flax seed. Flax seed is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which prevents inflammation and supports the immune system; it can be found in a powder form, which is sprinkled on food rather than taken in a pill, which makes it easy to take.
Garlic is another recommended choice when it comes to cancer prevention. It has been shown to reduce the chance of cancer cells spreading, and to enhance the ability of DNA to repair itself if some cancer is already present. One clove of garlic per day is recommended, which is good news for anyone who enjoys cooking with garlic. If you aren’t into foods with garlic, it can also be found in capsule form, as garlic extract; so you can take it in pill form and not worry about having to incorporate it into what you normally eat.
Thinking about breast cancer diagnosis can be scary, especially if you have genetic risk factors, such as being above a certain age or having a family history of cancer. It is true that these things cannot be changed no matter how healthy you eat, or how much you exercise, but this is even more reason to pay attention to those parts of your life in order to reduce the risks of a future diagnosis as much as possible. Making your lifestyle healthier will be helpful, and the change does not have to happen overnight. Breast cancer prevention is an ongoing journey, and if you are intimidated by the changes you may have to make, remember that every small progress is a step which helps in the long run.