Expert Review And References
- American Institute for Cancer Research / World Cancer Research Fund. Continuous Update Project Report: Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Breast Cancer. 2017: .
- Lester J. Early stage breast cancer. Yarbro CH, Wujcki D, Holmes Gobel B, . Cancer Nursing: Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning; 2018: 47: 1279 – 1334.
- Morrow M, Burstein HJ, and Harris JR. Malignant tumors of the breast. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, & Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 79: 1117-1156.
- National Cancer Institute. Genetics of Breast and Gynecologic Cancers Health Professional Version. 2016: .
- National Cancer Institute. Breast Cancer Screening Health Professional Version. 2017: .
- National Cancer Institute. Breast Cancer Prevention Health Professional Version. 2017: .
- World Health Organization. Breast Cancer: Prevention and Control. Geneva: World Health Organization ; 2017.
The Following Are Protective Factors For Breast Cancer:
Reproductive history resulting in less exposure to estrogen
A womans reproductive history can affect the length of time her breast tissue is exposed to estrogen. Early onset of menstruation, late onset of menopause, later age at first pregnancy, and never having given birth have been linked to an increase in estrogen exposure and breast cancer risk. The following reproductive factors decrease the length of time a woman’s breast tissue is exposed to estrogen and may help prevent breast cancer:
- Early pregnancy: Estrogen levels are lower during pregnancy. Women who have a full-term pregnancy before age 20 have a lower risk of breast cancer than women who have not had children or who give birth to their first child after age 35.
- Breast-feeding: Estrogen levels may remain lower while a woman is breast-feeding. Women who breastfed have a lower risk of breast cancer than women who have had children but did not breastfeed.
Taking estrogen-only hormone therapy after hysterectomy, selective estrogen receptor modulators, or aromatase inhibitors and inactivators
Estrogen-only hormone therapy after hysterectomy
Hormone therapy with estrogen only may be given to women who have had a hysterectomy. In these women, estrogen-only therapy after menopause may decrease the risk of breast cancer. There is an increased risk of stroke and heart and blood vessel disease in postmenopausal women who take estrogen after a hysterectomy.
Selective estrogen receptor modulators
Avoid Or Limit Hormone Replacement Therapy
If you are using a combined method of hormone replacement therapy continued than 3 to 5 years, you have an increased risk of breast cancer.
If you are taking this treatment for symptoms of menopause, talk to your doctor regarding other options.
There may be non-hormonal methods that will help control your symptoms. If the advantages outweigh the chances of taking hormone replacement therapy, try to use the lowest dose that works for you.
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Talk To Your Doctor About Your Family History
If cancer seems to run in your family, consider taking an important, and possibly lifesaving step genetic counseling. It can empower you by providing information about your cancer risks, the likelihood that your familys history of cancer is hereditary and your options for genetic testing. HonorHealth develops your testing plan based on family history and individual needs, saving you money and focusing on the right genetic targets. Call to schedule an appointment with a genetic counselor.
Understanding Breast Cancer Risk
Researchers are working to understand how different factors work separately and together to affect your health and your risk of developing breast cancer. By making healthier choices such as quitting smoking or eating nutritious foods you can help keep your risk as low as it can be. Learn about what risk means and how that risk can change.
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Ways To Lower Your Breast Cancer Risk
The steps you take to live a healthier life, like eating healthy,staying active, and getting screened, can also lower your breast cancer risk.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. It affects 1 of every 8 American women. But there are several steps you can take to lower your cancer risk. Follow these healthy livings tips.
Stay lean after menopause
Obese women have a higher breast cancer risk after menopause. Researchers believe this is because obesity causes estrogen levels to rise. ;
To maintain a healthy weight, eat a plant-based diet and avoid foods with extra sugar or unhealthy fats.
Studies show that even if you dont lose weight, exercise helps lower your breast cancer risk by helping regulate your estrogen levels, says Therese Bevers, M.D., MD Anderson Cancer Center Cancer Prevention Center medicaldirector.
Aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Whether its biking, swimming or another activity, try to get your heart rate up.
Dont forget strength-training. Try to add strength training exercises at least two days a week. It boosts your metabolism and helps build bone density, which can help prevent osteoporosis as well. Strength training wont make you bulky or less flexible. Talk to your doctor or a personal trainer if you need help starting a strength training routine. ;
We recommend that women limit themselves to one drink or less a day, Bevers says. ;
Choose to breastfeed
If You Are Age 55 Or Over:
Mammograms are recommended every other year. You can choose to continue to have them every year.
Clinical breast exams and self-exams are not recommended. But you should be familiar with your breasts and tell a health care provider right away if you notice any changes in how your breasts look or feel.
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Dont Wait For Symptoms To Appearget Screened
Screening for breast cancer can seem scary, but the sooner its found, the sooner it can be treated and the better your odds for remission. From ages 25-39, talk with your health care professional at least once every three years for risk assessment, risk reduction counseling and a clinical breast exam. At age 40, begin getting screened annually.
If you have a personal family history or are at increased risk of breast cancer, all of this could be different for you. Talk to your health care professional about your risk and assess your options together.
Not sure which exam or screening is right for you? Check out 4 breast cancer screening tests you should know about.
Make Time For An Outdoor Walk
The benefits are twofold. A study of nearly 60,000 postmenopausal women published in;Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention;in 2014 found that those who consistently walked about 35 minutes a day were 10 percent less likely to develop cancer. And a 2017 study out of the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, saw early signs that the same blue light wavelengths that regulate your circadian rhythm may stop subcutaneous fat cells from storing too much of the stuff. Most women add this form of fat as they gain weight, says McTiernan, and being overweight or obese raises the chances of breast cancer postmenopause. To keep your BMI healthy and breast-cancer risk in check, get regular moderate-intensity exercise, like two and a half hours a week of brisk walking, swimming, or bikingand if you can, log some of it outside.
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Get Smart: Know Your Risk
Prevention has to start with knowledge. Women at an increased risk of breast cancer may need to start screening earlier or be screened more frequently than women of average risk. You might be at an increased risk if you:
- Are overweight or obese or are not physically active
- Have mutations of BRCA-1, BRCA-2 or PALB-2 genes
- Have a family or personal history of breast, colorectal or ovarian cancer
- Began menstrual period before 12 or began menopause after 55
- Have never had children or had your first child after age 30
- Are currently using or have recently used birth control pills
- Have used hormone replacement therapy for more than 10 years
Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
- A painless lump in the breast or underarm area
- Less-common symptoms: breast pain or heaviness, thickening, swelling, redness, discharge, nipple turned inward
The information in this post first appeared in the April 2019 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.
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Ten Lifestyle Changes That May Help
All breast cancer survivors live with the concern about a recurrence or a new cancer. This fear is usually the biggest worry of all. Many women feel that their body has betrayed them and therefore it takes time to trust it again.
Learning how to cope with fears of recurrence is important. Though your body has gone through many changes as a result of a cancer diagnosis and treatment, most women become healthy, strong and optimistic once again.
Eat Your Fruits & Vegetables And Avoid Too Much Alcohol
A healthy diet can help lower the risk of breast cancer.; Try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and keep alcohol at moderate levels or lower .; While moderate drinking can be good for the heart in older adults, even low levels of intake can increase the risk of breast cancer.; If you dont drink, dont feel you need to start. If you drink moderately, theres likely no reason to stop. But, if you drink more, you should cut down or quit.
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Timing Of Childbearing Age At First Birth Number Of Children And Breastfeeding
Not having children or having your first child over the age of 30 increases your risk of breast cancer because of the continuous exposure to oestrogen during menstrual cycles. Having children at a younger age and having multiple children reduces the risk, as does breastfeeding, especially if you breastfeed continuously for at least a year. These factors are most strongly associated with the risk of oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer. The risk of triple negative breast cancer is reduced by breastfeeding but doesn’t seem to be reduced by early age at first birth.
Although childbirth lowers your lifetime risk of breast cancer, it’s important to know there is a short-term increase in risk for two to five years after giving birth. It’s not something to stress about breast cancer is less common in younger women but it does mean you should take breast lumps or other changes after childbirth seriously, and insist on being referred for assessment if you’re concerned.
Mammographic Grading System For Breast Density
In the US the American College of Radiology developed a Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System scoring method using a 1-4 rating system. This classification system allows radiologists to measure and describe breast density as follows:
BI-RADS 1: ;;;;less than 25% Dense Breast Tissue
BI-RADS 2:;;;; 26-50% Dense Breast Tissue
BI-RADS 3:;;;; 51-75% Dense Breast Tissue
BI-RADS 4:;;; more than 75% Dense Breast Tissue
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Make Sure You Get Fiber
You can find this nutrient in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans. Women who eat plenty of these foods had a lower risk of breast cancer, according to several studies. Scientists arenât exactly sure how it works to prevent tumors, but theyâre doing more research to understand why. A fiber-rich diet can also help your health in other ways, like lowering your odds of diabetes and heart disease.
How To Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK for women. Every year around 55,000 people receive a diagnosis. Although there are some risk factorsfor developing the disease that cant be changed, such as your age or genetics, there are steps that all of us can take to reduce our risk of developing breast cancer.
Does Pregnancy Affect The Risk Of Other Cancers
Research has shown the following with regard to pregnancy and the risk of other cancers:
- Women who have had a full-term pregnancy have reduced risks of ovarian and endometrial cancers. Furthermore, the risks of these cancers decline with each additional full-term pregnancy.
- Pregnancy also plays a role in an extremely rare type of tumor called a gestational trophoblastic tumor. In this type of tumor, which starts in the uterus, cancer cells grow in the tissues that are formed following conception.
- There is some evidence that pregnancy-related factors may affect the risk of other cancer types, but these relationships have not been as well studied as those for breast and gynecologic cancers. The associations require further study to clarify the exact relationships.
As in the development of breast cancer, exposures to hormones are thought to explain the role of pregnancy in the development of ovarian, endometrial, and other cancers. Changes in the levels of hormones during pregnancy may contribute to the variation in risk of these tumors after pregnancy .
It Is Not Clear Whether The Following Affect The Risk Of Breast Cancer:
Hormonal contraceptives contain estrogen or estrogen and progestin. Some studies have shown that women who are current or recent users of hormonal contraceptives may have a slight increase in breast cancer risk. Other studies have not shown an increased risk of breast cancer in women using hormonal contraceptives.
In one study, the risk of breast cancer slightly increased the longer a woman used hormonal contraceptives. Another study showed that the slight increase in breast cancer risk decreased over time when women stopped using hormonal contraceptives.
More studies are needed to know whether hormonal contraceptives affect a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
Chemicals in the environment
These reasons make it hard to know which chemicals, if any, may increase the risk of breast cancer. More studies are needed to know whether chemicals in the environment affect a woman’s risk of breast cancer. For more information, see Environmental Carcinogens and Cancer Risk.
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Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer
Almost everyone knows someone touched by breast cancer, as it is the most common type of cancer among women outside of certain skin cancers. So many factors can contribute to developing breast cancer, including age and family history. Some things you cant control or change, but there are some lifestyle changes that may be helpful in decreasing your chances of getting breast cancer. There is no guaranteed way to prevent breast cancer, but there are some ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
1. Limit or Avoid Alcohol
Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of breast cancer. Studies have shown that even low levels of alcohol are linked to an increase in cancer risk. If you do drink, limit your intake to one drink per day.; A drink is defined as:
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of hard liquor
2. Discuss the Risks and Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy is often a beneficial treatment for women, especially during menopause. However, this treatment should be closely monitored by a doctor and limited when possible due to its link to increased breast cancer risk. Talk to your doctor about the risks of HRT for you and see if there are non-hormonal treatments that may help with symptoms.
Using hormonal birth control has also been shown to increase breast cancer risk, but only very slightly. Though it is a small risk, your doctor can talk to you about the risks vs benefits of using this type of birth control in your specific case.
6. Stop Smoking
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Some of the factors associated with breast cancer risk cant be changed, such as age and genetics. Other factors, such as lack of exercise, smoking, and eating unhealthy food can be changed by choosing healthier lifestyle options. Learn more about breast cancer risk factors and steps you can take to help protect your breast health.
Common Fears With No Evidence: Antiperspirants and Bras
Occasionally, media stories or posts on social media will claim that antiperspirants and bras increase breast cancer risk. There is no scientific evidence to support either of these rumors. Learn more.
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Oral Contraceptive Pill And Depo Provera Use
The risk of developing breast cancer in women who currently or recently used contemporary, combined oral contraceptive pills is higher than in women who have never used hormonal contraceptives. The risk increases with longer duration of use. However the absolute increase in risk is quite small. The increase in risk also applies to the use of hormone secreting intra-uterine devices
Oral contraceptive use is considered relatively safe for women under the age of 40 who are not already at high risk of breast cancer, and it reduces the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers.
Depo Provera, an injectable progesterone, has been shown to slightly increase breast cancer risk but the increase in risk disappears after discontinuation of use.