Healthy habits that could help women reduce their breast cancer risk
A physically active lifestyle can help women reduce their risk for breast cancer.
Cancer is a formidable disease that the World Health Organization reports is the leading cause of death worldwide. Figures vary, but organizations such as the WHO and the American Cancer Society estimate that around 9.5 million people die from cancer every year.
No type of cancer causes more deaths in women across the globe than breast cancer. Though the five-year survival rate for breast cancer patients has increased by a significant margin in recent decades, a 2019 study published in The Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention reported a significant increase in breast cancer mortality rate in the 25-year period preceding the study. The researchers behind the study theorized that the spike in mortality rate could be due to an increase in incidence and prevalence of breast cancer.
Like all cancers, breast cancer cannot be prevented. However, various healthy habits could help women reduce their risk for the disease.
Avoid alcohol. The ACS reports that alcohol consumption is a clear risk factor for breast cancer. Risk increases with the amount of alcohol a woman consumes.
For example, a woman who consumes one alcoholic drink per day has a 7 to 10 percent higher risk of getting breast cancer than a woman who abstains from alcohol.
Drinking two to three drinks per day could increase risk by around 20 percent.
Establish and maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases breast cancer risk, particularly among postmenopausal women. According to the ACS, after menopause women get most of their estrogen from fat tissue.
Fat tissue increases estrogen levels in the body, which in turn increases a woman's risk for breast cancer. Elevated levels of insulin in the body, which is common among individuals who are overweight, also has been linked to higher breast cancer risk.
Establishing and maintaining a healthy weight cannot prevent breast cancer, but it can help women reduce their risk for the disease.
Maintain a physically active life –
style. A sedentary lifestyle increases a person's risk for various conditions and diseases. Women who live such a lifestyle are at elevated risk for breast cancer. The ACS notes that sedentary behavior such as sitting, lying down, watching television, or engaging with screen-based forms of entertainment that do not require physical activity can increase breast cancer risk, especially for women who spend most of their work day sitting down. A more physically active lifestyle that includes routine exercise can help women reduce their breast cancer risk.
Adopt a nutritious diet. Eating right is another way for women to reduce their breast cancer risk. Vegetables, fiberrich legumes such as beans and peas, fruits across the color spectrum, and whole grains are some components of a healthy, nutrient-rich diet that can help lower breast cancer risk. Women also can avoid certain foods, such as red and processed meats and refined grains, to lower their breast cancer risk.
Though there's no guaranteed way to prevent breast cancer, women can embrace various healthy habits to lower their risk for the disease.