The breast cancer symbol has become a pink ribbon that signifies the Susan G. Koman foundation’s attempts to eradicate breast cancer. What is breast cancer and what are some symptoms, though? And what can you do to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer?
Unfortunately, breast cancer is known as a “silent killer,” because often, you don’t see symptoms until the disease has progressed significantly. The best way to stay on top of cancer symptoms is to do monthly self-exams to check for lumps, thickening, or changes, such as dimpling around the nipple, which may signify the onset of breast cancer.
Getting to know your own breasts is crucial in the prevention of cancer. That’s because you’re going to know your own breast tissue far better than any doctor ever could, even though of course you can and should have a professional medical exam on a regular basis to check for just these changes. Regular mammograms at a certain age, such as over the age of 40, are also imperative if you want to prevent that monster.
Lifestyle changes that can help
As with every type of cancer, lifestyle changes play a major part in the prevention of it. So, if you smoke, stop. Limit the alcohol you drink to no more than one drink a day, maintain a healthy weight, and eat properly. Limit the amount of fat you eat, especially saturated fat, and include healthy fat sources in your diet, like omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids that come from flaxseed, fish oil, and olive oil. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and get enough exercise. Keep stress levels down, and get enough sleep every night.
All of this seems like a good “common sense” advice, of course, and rather generic especially when it comes to preventing breast cancer. However, because most cancers occur with a combination of the right genetic and lifestyle conditions, lifestyle conditions that prevent cancer in general can go a long way toward preventing breast cancer in particular.
A note about long-term hormone replacement therapy
There is some evidence (with an emphasis on “some”) that long-term hormone replacement therapy can increase your risk. The jury is still out on this, and of course the hormone replacement therapy does have its benefits, too. Therefore, make sure you check with your health care practitioner if you’re undertaking a course of hormone replacement therapy to manage use as much as possible so that your risks for getting breast cancer, too, are minimized.
Other possible factors
There is some evidence that wearing restrictive clothing like brassieres for more than 12 hours a day may also increase your risk. Again, the studies on this are very preliminary, but the theory behind the risk of breast cancer and wearing restrictive clothing for a long period of time is that toxins are allowed to build up in breast tissue because of this restriction, thus contributing to the development of cancer. Therefore, as another possible preventative for breast cancer, limit the amount of time you wear restrictive clothing like a brassiere to no more than eight hours a day, and do a thorough breast massage after you remove the clothing to make sure the lymphatic fluid is allowed to circulate.