Most people know family members, friends, neighbors or co-workers whose lives have been touched by some form of cancer. And, while cancer research on both prevention and treatment is ongoing, findings suggest that changes in lifestyle can reduce the risks of some cancers.
A K-State publication “Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer” by Sandy Proctor, K-State Nutrition specialist, describes actions women can take to reduce the risk of this type of cancer. In the United States, breast cancer is the second most common cancer after skin cancer. In Kansas, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer.
Some risks are not controllable. If you are a female and you are over 50 your risk is higher. If you have a family member who has had breast cancer, you are also at greater risk. However, there are risks that are controllable. The first important step is to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can increase the risk of breast cancer and losing weight can decrease the risk.
Another important lifestyle step is to eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits and whole grain foods. The third important practice is to exercise. Studies have shown that women who exercise four or more hours a week have lower risk of breast cancer.
Limiting the amount of alcohol consumed is also important. The risk increases as the amount of alcohol increases. The use of hormone replacement therapy is also a possible risk. Check with your health care professional about alternative options.
A key strategy to preventing breast cancer is early detection. The most common screening is a mammogram or x-ray of the breast. If there is not a family history of breast cancer, it is suggested that women age 45-54 get a mammogram every year. Women age 55 and older can choose to have a screening every other year or continue with an annual mammogram. If there is a family history of breast cancer, your physician will likely set up a schedule with earlier screenings.
The full publication written by Sandy Proctor and Marcia Locke can be found at https://bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF3536A.pdf.
Berny Unruh is the Family and Community Wellness Agent for the Cottonwood Extension District. She can be reached at 785-628-9430 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.