4 Everyday Ways to Lower Your Risk for Breast Cancer

The first step of breast cancer awareness is prevention. The problem? It can be hard to know what prevention looks like. Aside from regular exams and our family history/genetics, what can we do to decrease our chances of developing breast cancer? Regular exams are very important, but prevention reaches further than mammograms and breast exams. While you cannot completely prevent breast cancer, there are actually simple things you can do in your day to day life to help lower your risk of developing breast cancer. To give you a full overview, we’ve compiled a list of 4 easy ways to help lower your risk of breast cancer.

1. Skip the Second Glass of Wine

Prevent Breast Cancer: Skip Second Glass of Wine - Decrease Alcohol Intake Prevent Breast Cancer: Skip Second Glass of Wine - Decrease Alcohol Intake

For many people, having an alcoholic beverage on a night out or after work to wind down is a common occurrence. However, some studies have found alcohol can directly affect your risk of developing various illnesses and health issues, including breast cancer. This is because alcohol consumption can disturb hormones in the body, negatively affecting the entire body.

What You Can Do Everyday:

This does not mean you have to give up drinking altogether. Cutting back or drinking within moderation is key. Moderate alcohol drinking is defined as drinking up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men; drinking any more than seven drink a week for women and fourteen drinks a week for men, as well as binge drinking, is considered heavy alcohol use and increases your risk. If you’re thinking of giving up alcohol altogether, your chances of developing breast cancer will decrease over time.

2. Dodge the Donuts in the Break Room

Prevent Breast Cancer: Dodge Donut - Decrease Sugar Prevent Breast Cancer: Dodge Donut - Decrease Sugar

Ingesting too much sugar is a multi-faceted problem. Eating too many sugary treats can cause weight gain leading to obesity. This increase in fat tissue causes a boost in insulin and estrogen, both of which can increase your risk of developing breast cancer. 

What You Can Do Everyday:

While lowering your sugar intake may sound as simple as cutting out desserts, it’s a little more difficult than that. There is hidden sugar in food items such as salad dressings, soups, and instant oatmeal. To keep your sugar levels low, watch your daily intake of sugars - The suggested daily amount is 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons for men. Here are a couple ways to cut back on sugar: 

  • Know what sugar is. Sugar goes by many names and comes in many forms including sucrose, dextrose, glucose, fructose, honey, syrup, fruit juices, and fruit concentrates. Also look out for artificial sweeteners, like sucralose. 
  • Avoid soda and juice.
  • Honey and syrup still counts as sugar, so keep this mind when you add it to your coffee or tea.
  • The good news: the sugars in whole fruits do not count into daily sugar intake! Satisfty your sweet tooth by adding an apple to your oatmeal or snacking on a banana. What they say is true: fruit is good for you! 
  • It's okay to have too much sugar sometimes! It is all about moderation and doing your best to lower your sugar intake.

3. Walk the Dog

Prevent Breast Cancer: Walk the Dog - Increase Excercise Prevent Breast Cancer: Walk the Dog - Increase Excercise

Our bodies are meant to move - Living an inactive lifestyle can be extremely detrimental to your overall health. Studies show a physically active person has a lower risk of developing breast cancer than people who do not exercise. Experts think this is related to the effect exercise has on estrogen and glucose in the body, as well as its overall effect on body weight.

What You Can Do Everyday:

If you’re starting from scratch on building an exercise regimen, don’t overthink it! You don't need as much exercise as you may think: try to aim for an active 30 minutes everyday.

  • Try to get up and move 5 minutes every hour.
  • Go for a walk in the morning or evening with your dog or family.
  • Ride a Bike.
  • Walk around on your lunch break.
  • Pace while brushing your teeth, waiting for food in the microwave, and cooking.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Keep track of your steps with a pedometer. 
  • Find an active hobby like yoga, dancing, or kickboxing.
  • All in all, work toward being more active and sitting less.

4. Trade in Cheetos for Carrot Sticks

Prevent Breast Cancer: Eat Carrot Sticks - Cut back on Processed Foods Prevent Breast Cancer: Eat Carrot Sticks - Cut back on Processed Foods

Many times we skimp on more natural food options in favor of mass-produced, easy and cheap to make, processed foods. Studies have shown packaged snacks, sugary cereals, carbonated drinks, "fast food" and other highly processed choices can significantly boost a person’s risk of developing cancer.

What You Can Do Everyday:

While it may seem nearly impossible to avoid processed foods, cutting back is the best place to start.

  • Buy bakery-fresh bread instead of pre-packaged bread.
  • Meal prep at the beginning of the week to make sure you have prepared healthy snacks and easy-to-make meals ready for the week.
  • Eat a breakfast with whole foods like oatmeal, quinoa, fruit, and hard-boiled eggs rather than highly-processed granola bars and cereal.
  • Pack your lunch at home before heading to work.
  • Instead of eating muffins, crackers, and chips for snacks, stick to easy-to-eat fruits, veggies, and nuts.
  • Avoid fast food and make easy, healthy dinners at home such as baked potatos, frozen veggie stir fry, salads, and more.
  • If you want a treat, bake one for yourself to cut back on preservatives and food processing.
  • A good rule of thumb is to look for any preservatives listed as anything other than salt. Also, try to avoid any imitation sweeteners, colorants, modified starches, and other additives.
  • Click here to learn about cancer and a plant based diet.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, the best way to lower your risk for breast cancer everyday is maintaining a healthy lifestyle! While implementing more exercise, eating less processed food/sugary treats, and cutting back on alcohol are fabulous and can reduce the risk of breast cancer, you cannot eliminate the risk altogether. Several other risk factors exist, including your family history, if you have given birth, and age (to name a few). Make sure you get screenings and become aware of all risk factors that apply to you.

 

What do you do to lower your risk of getting breast cancer? Tell us in the comments section below!

 

Sources:

1. Effects of Alcohol on the Endocrine System. Rachdaoui, Nadia; Sakar, Dipak K. 2014 Sept. 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3767933/

2. Alochol Use: Weighing Risks and Benefits. MayoClinic Staff. 2019 Oct. 26. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/alcohol/art-20044551

 3. Does Sugar Cause Cancer?  Espat, Adelina. MDAnderson Cancer Center. 2015 May. https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/FOH-cancer-love-sugar.h14-1589835.html

4. Exercise (Physical Activity) and Breast Cancer Risk. Susan G . Komen Foundation. Up. 2020 Feb. 13. https://ww5.komen.org/Breastcancer/Lackofexercise.html#:~:text=Women%20who%20get%20regular%20exercise,percent%20%5B119%2D125%5D.

5. Limit 'Fast Foods'. World Cancer Research Fund. https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/recommendations/limit-fast-foods-fat-sugar

6. Eating Highly Processed Food May Raise Cancer Risk. Harvard Health Letter. 2018 May. https://www.health.harvard.edu/cancer/eating-highly-processed-foods-may-raise-cancer-risk