Breast Cancer - Reducing Your Risk
About one in twelve women will develop breast cancer sometime in her life. There are numerous risk factors for contracting breast cancer, some within your control and some that are not. Fortunately, for those factors that are in your control, no great sacrifice is required to minimize them.
Eating a healthy diet is the first, and in many ways the easiest, step. There's considerable evidence to suggest that diet does alter the odds. While there's nothing you eat that will produce breast cancer, nor anything you can eat to prevent it, some foods are helpful, others less so.
Since one leading theory indicates that breast cancer is, if not caused by at least encouraged by, free radicals in the blood, eating foods rich in antioxidants is a good idea. Free radicals are charged ions, usually oxygen, that can do damage to cells. Antioxidants chemically combine with these active molecules to render them harmless. There's ample evidence to suggest that eating foods rich in antioxidants lowers the risk of breast cancer.
Green vegetables are great for this purpose, but any others will also help. Apples, strawberries and other fruits are also beneficial. Red wines in moderation, as well as green teas, are rich in antioxidants.
Exercise is another risk factor within your personal control. Along with diet, not only does it help raise the general level of health but it can help smooth hormone levels and provide other health values. Even if you do contract breast cancer, being in good shape helps you deal with treatments in an optimal way.
Estrogen and progesterone are strongly believed by researchers to contribute to the risk of contracting breast cancer (the first in particular). These natural hormones are vital for health, but excessive amounts can occur. They are readily stored in fat tissues and regular exercise helps keep your body fat percentage at the appropriate level. Proper diet helps here, too.
High alcohol consumption has been correlated with increased cancer risk. It has a generally bad effect on health and tends to raise estrogen levels and interfere with the body's ability to combat antioxidants.
A glass of wine per day is generally beneficial. Even a small drink of hard alcohol can be beneficial. But for every 10g of alcohol consumed per day over long periods, the risk of contracting breast cancer increases by about 10%.
Reducing the number of menstrual cycles correlates with a reduced risk of experiencing breast cancer, since hormone levels are altered. The jury is still out on the contribution to cancer risk, if any, of taking oral contraceptives. So far, no clear cut evidence suggests that long term use is harmful. And new pills that may soon come on the market promise to eliminate menstrual cycles entirely.
Pregnancy, of course, is another way of reducing the risk of breast cancer but it has its own set of risks for other problems, of course. For those who wish to bear children, however, having them before age 30 has been correlated with a lower risk of breast cancer.
While there is no magic bullet, a healthy lifestyle is your best preventative. Even if you do contract the disease, better health gives you a much better chance of detecting and eliminating it early. Those in good health have much better chances of full recovery and long term survival.