Simple Things You Can Do To Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
There are many things we love about our work in women’s health, but nothing beats good science and good news. Here’s both:
A recent study published in JAMA Oncology notes that prevention of some breast cancers may be possible with some very simple proactive steps.
We’ve talked before about modifiable vs. nonmodifiable risk factors (you can exercise versus you can’t trade in your DNA). There’s a lot about breast cancer we can’t control. So when there’s proof that actions help in reducing the number of breast cancers, we love it!
Here are the awesome details: For the population studied, the risk of breast cancer was reduced by 30% simply by maintaining a healthy weight, cutting back on drinking and smoking, and avoiding* hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause.
This study looked at risks from genetics and how women can improved those risks through simple changes. Remember, genetics means more than the genetic information we get from our parents.
Genes are copied constantly, all throughout the body, as cells die and are replaced, or as we grow and age. As we age and copy our own genes, they can mutate or change. At times, a change to a gene can increase the risk of cancer.
Smoking is a great example of a choice we make that can lead to cancer-causing mutations. Smoking increases the risk of cancer by increasing the likelihood of a gene replicating in a bad way (which is why we insist that quitters ARE winners!).
For women, who simply by being women are at risk for breast cancer, the powerful tools we have to avoid it are maintaining a healthy weight, reducing alcohol and cigarette consumption and avoiding HRT. These are not a cure, nor a guaranteed recipe for avoiding cancer, but this study’s proof of reducing risk through simple actions is profound.
We share this study (and our excitement!) with you because we care, and because nothing is guaranteed. There is no silver bullet for breast cancer (yet) which means our best recourse is a combination of being proactive, preventative, and pursuing early detection.
If discovered in its earliest stages, breast cancer has a high cure rate of almost 98%. Annual screening mammograms are a proven way of finding breast cancer at its smallest most treatable size. So. let’s work together to beat breast cancer one woman at a time!
*We do acknowledge that there are instances where the risk/benefit ratio of HRT is such that it may be an option for some women. It’s important to know all the risks and have thoughtful discussions with your healthcare provider when deciding if HRT is right for you.