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Saturday, November 3, 2012

3 Ways to Help Prevent Breast Cancer

3 Ways to Help Prevent Breast Cancer

Want to reduce your risk of breast cancer? These simple lifestyle strategies may help.
Article By: Marisa Weiss, MD
Breast Cancer
There's good reason for all the attention breast cancer awareness gets: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, across all races and Hispanic origins, according to the Centers for Disease Control. While that statistic might seem scary, the fact is, research suggests that maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and staying active can help reduce the risk of breast cancer — either for the first time or as a recurrence. More studies need to be done to confirm those findings, but in the meantime, why not do all you can to stay as healthy as possible?
Maintain a healthy weight
It goes without saying that weight plays a role in helping you stay healthy, but it may also affect your risk for breast cancer. There is substantial evidence to support the theory that obesity increases the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. In fact, a 2006 study involving more than 87,000 female nurses showed that weight gain during adulthood (e.g. 20s, 30s, 40s) is a strong risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer.
The good news though is that maintaining a healthy weight through the years, along with losing weight (if overweight) after menopause, can do a lot to lower your risk.

Eat a healthy diet 
Maintaining an overall healthy diet not only offers your body the energy and nutrition it needs to function, it also offers health benefits.
Several studies suggest that a healthy diet may play a role in reducing the risk of breast cancer. For example:

  • A low-fat diet may help reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence. In a 2005 study, women with a history of breast cancer who got only about 25 percent of their daily calories from fat had a lower risk of the cancer coming back.
  • In 2006, the Women's Health Initiative Trial suggested that a low-fat diet may reduce the risk of first-time breast cancer for women whose diets are very high in fat to begin with.
  • A 2007 National Cancer Institute study of middle-age women, who ate a wide range of fat, showed that a high-fat diet raises the risk of developing invasive breast cancer.
  • Women who eat a lot of meat, particularly red or processed meats, may be more likely to develop breast cancer, according to a large study of British women published in April 2007.
Keep active
Besides giving you more energy and helping you lose weight, physical activity also can help lower a woman's breast cancer risk. Two studies completed in February 2007 confirmed that six or more hours of activity each week can reduce the risk of invasive breast cancer for most women.
Changing your diet, losing weight and starting or ramping up your exercise routine can be hard. But with information, support and practical tips on how to make the changes, you can begin working toward a healthy weight that will help your body stay strong and healthy.

About the Writer
Marisa Weiss, MD, is president and founder of Visit the "Lower Your Risk" section at to learn more about breast cancer risk
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