Several studies were devoted to breast cancer risk factors, breast cancer first signs, breast cancer types and treatments but there is limited information concerning links between women lifestyle and breast cancer risks. It is well known that some breast cancer risk factors such as genetic factors or family history cannot be changed. But it was noted that some women with similar risk factors get breast cancer and some not. Why? Medical experts suggest that risk factors can be triggered or reduced by just lifestyle changes. Healthy lifestyles always reduce chances for cancer development. According to recent studies, lifestyle changes can decrease breast cancer risk even in high-risk women.
Several epidemiological studies noted that breast cancer prevention starts with healthy habits which include cancer fighting diet, physical activities, weight control and avoiding hormones, alcohol and smoking.
Breast cancer lifestyle changes – Alcohol
Alcohol itself is clearly linked to the increased risk of breast cancer but some experts suggest red wine being the exception. Some nutritionists recommend moderate use of red wine regularly for breast cancer prevention, suggesting that resveratrol (antioxidant from red or black grapes) has strong anticancer properties.
In general, the amount of alcohol consumed is correlating with level of cancer development risks. More you drink – greater are your risks for breast cancer development. Researchers recommend limiting alcohol drinking to less than 1 drink per day.
Breast cancer lifestyle changes – Weight control
Extra weight (overweight or obesity) especially after menopause increases breast cancer risks. Why? It is well known that in young females ovaries make most of estrogen hormones and fat tissue makes very small amount of estrogen. After 50-55 (menopausal period) ovaries stop making estrogen and most amount of estrogen comes from fat tissue. It means more fat – more female hormones and higher risks for breast cancer development (especially hormone-sensitive tumors).
Increased volume of fat tissue after menopause can increase chances of getting breast cancer because of increased levels of estrogen. It was also noted that overweight women tend to have higher blood insulin levels which was linked not only to breast cancer risks but also to risks of other types of cancer.
Breast cancer lifestyle changes – Physical activities
Breast cancer and lifestyle
According to scientific studies, physical activities (exercises, active lifestyle) not only reduce breast cancer risks but can also increase breast cancer survival rates by 50%. In addition, physical activities maintain healthy weight which is also reducing risks for breast cancer.
Different experts recommend different types of physical activities for reducing breast cancer risks. Some recommend brisk walking during 1.5-2.5 hours every week for reducing breast cancer risks by 18-20%. Walking about 8-10 hours per week can reduce breast cancer risks by 20-21%. Most experts recommend minimum 30 minutes physical activities every day.
Breast cancer lifestyle changes – Smoking
It is well known that smoking (nicotine) is connected to cancer cells development (mainly in lungs). But what about breast cancer? Recent scientific studies noted high correlation between smoking and breast cancer cases in premenopausal women.
Breast cancer lifestyle changes – Reproductive behavior
Researcher noted links between number of menstrual cycles and breast cancer risks. More menstrual cycles means increased risks for breast cancer. This is why early menarche and late menopause are considered as risk factors for breast cancer development.
Women who did not have children or who had their first child after 30-35 have increased risks for breast cancer development. It is important to mention that reproductive history with many pregnancies can reduce breast cancer risks especially if woman breastfeed her children. Recent studies show that longer you breast-feed your baby – the greater is the protective effect from breast cancer. It was also noted that women, who became pregnant at young age and had successful delivery with healthy child, also have reduced risks for breast cancer.
What is the reason? Some experts explain above mentioned phenomena by total number of lifetime menstrual cycles. Actually pregnancies and breastfeeding reduce women total number of menstrual cycles during their reproductive period.
Breast cancer lifestyle changes – Hormonal contraception
It was noted that birth control pills users have slightly increased risk of breast cancer than women who have never used them. At the same time, women who stopped using birth control pills more than 10 years ago don’t have increased breast cancer risks anymore. Some researchers mention that more risky were old birth control pills with higher estrogen doses (used before 1985).
Another “risky” contraception is Depo Provera (Depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate, DMPA). It is long-term injectable hormonal contraception that is given once every 3 months. It was noted that DMPA users have increased risks for breast cancer during first 5 years and after 5 years the risk is disappearing. Future studies are needed for understanding and clarifications.
Breast cancer lifestyle changes – Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Hormone replacement therapy is very well known method of therapy during menopause. It has several advantages but it is recognized also as a risk factor for breast cancer development in menopausal women. There are different types of HRT depending on hormones used, doses and duration. It was noted that combined hormone replacement therapy during 3-5 years not only increases the risk of getting breast cancer but also can reduce breast cancer survival rates.
Breast cancer lifestyle changes – Radiation
Modern medicine invented several diagnostic methods based on radiation. These methods are very useful but in some cases they can increase risks for breast cancer development. As some researchers suggest strong link between breast cancer and radiation exposure, it would be better to avoid mentioned diagnostic methods as much as possible. At the same time, it is absolutely necessary to avoid radiation exposure in general.
It is well known that “we are what we eat“and definitely our diet has influence at our health, metabolism and risk factors. During last decades thousands of studies were devoted to healthy food and hundreds publications were mentioning cancer fighting foods. It means healthy anticancer diet is crucial and can reduce your risks for breast cancer.
Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.