Today, breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women worldwide, with nearly 1.7 million new cases diagnosed in 2012. India, China and the US collectively accounts for around one-third breast cancer cases of the world.
Studies have shown that women in developed nations have five times the rate of postmenopausal breast cancers and twice the rate of premenopausal breast cancers as compared to women in less developed countries.
“Unhealthy lifestyle habits can play a major role in women developing breast cancer. Contrary to popular belief, cancer is not inevitable. Women have more control over the disease than they might think. A simple change in lifestyle can go a long way in preventing breast cancers,” said Dr. Neelesh Reddy, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Columbia Asia Hospitals.
While some factors are beyond our control, Dr. Neelesh Reddy says these five healthy lifestyle habits can help lower breast cancer risk.
Maintain a healthy weight
Overweight or obese women are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer than leaner women. This is because fat cells releases substances including estrogen, which can stimulate cell growth and breast cancer. Regular exercise can also go a long way in improving your body’s metabolism and controlling weight.
Give up red meat
Studies have found that the risk of developing breast cancer is more with the increasing amounts of red meat. According to statistics, for every additional daily serving of red meat, the risk of breast cancer increases by 13% and by 54% in women consuming oral contraceptive pills. Instead, one can opt for fish. The Omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients from fish help lower breast cancer risk.
Cut back on booze and avoid smoking
Avoiding alcohol is as important as losing weight. It has been proven that more alcohol you drink, greater you are at a risk of developing breast cancer. However, if you choose to drink alcohol — including beer, wine or liquor — try to limit yourself to no more than one – two drink/week. It has also been proven that smoking leads to increase in breast cancer. Also, since smoking is an important risk factor for cancer in general, it only makes sense to avoid it.
Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy
Combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer. If you’re taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor about other options. You may be able to manage your symptoms with non-hormonal therapies, such as physical activity.
Eat healthy and include fibers in your diet
Whether it comes from fruits, veggies or whole grains, fiber is good for breast health. Embrace a diet high in vegetables and fruit and low in sugared drinks, refined carbohydrates and fatty foods. Eat lean protein such as fish or chicken breast and eat red meat in moderation, if at all. Eat whole grains. Choose vegetable oils over animal fats. Studies have found as much as a 5% reduction in breast cancer risk per every 10 grams of fiber added to a woman’s diet per day.