Breast Cancer Prevention: Protective Factors You Should Know
It's fall again. The jackets are coming out of the closets, and there's a crispness in the air. More importantly, Breast Cancer Awareness month, or better known as Pinktober! Everything is filled with a sea of pinkness! There are pink water fountains, pink hair, pink food, pink shoes, and of course, the iconic bright pink bows! Seeing the world engage in breast cancer awareness campaigns and acknowledge breast cancer survivors is beautiful. Being mindful of breast cancer and cancer prevention is the most effective way of reducing your chances of getting this disease. And since cancer is an accumulative disease (i.e., lifestyle, genes, environment, and daily habits), practicing early prevention matters a great deal and should not be ignored!
The fact that we know that being overweight or obese and not being physically active have been linked to breast cancer risk, but it's still unclear if there's a direct link between diet and breast cancer risk. There's definitely mixed reviews on whether or not diet plays a role in aiding breast cancer. The United States shows studies that there is no consistent link between high-fat diets and getting breast cancer, although breast cancer is less common in countries with low-fat diets. It can be very complicated to prove either side since all cultures have different activity levels, nutrition, and genetic factors. Regardless, it's always best to be on the safe side of being healthy!
Breast cancer factors
Anything that increases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer risk factor; anything that decreases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer protective factor. Unfortunately, living a clean life and eating healthy doesn't mean that you'll be cancer free - while you can't change some breast cancer risk factors such as family history and aging. Lowering your odds is the name of the game!
Risk factors for breast cancer:
- Old age
- A personal history of breast cancer or benign (noncancer) breast disease
- Inherited risk of breast cancer
- Dense breast tissue
- Reproductive history resulting in greater exposure to estrogen
- Taking hormone therapy for symptoms of menopause
- Radiation therapy to the breast or chest
- Eating toxic foods
- Drinking alcohol and harmful drugs
Protective factors for breast cancer:
- Less exposure to estrogen
- Taking estrogen-only hormone therapy after hysterectomy, selective estrogen receptor modulators, or aromatase inhibitors and inactivators
- Estrogen-only hormone therapy after hysterectomy
- Selective estrogen receptor modulators
- Risk-reducing or prophylactic mastectomy
- Ovarian ablation
- Eating non-toxic foods
- Exercise daily
- Regular checkups and mammograms
The bottom line is avoiding risk factors, and increasing protective factors may help prevent cancer and save your life! Small changes in your lifestyle to reduce cancer risk factors (i.e., not smoking, exercising regularly, and eating healthy) are not complex tasks. Encourage your friends and loved ones; it's so worth it!