Breast cancer is the most frequent tumor diagnosed in women in our country. Fortunately, breast cancer survival has improved markedly in the past 20 years; and more than 80% of diagnosed patients are free of the disease at 5 years.
There are factors that increase the risk of suffering it and that we cannot modify, such as age (up to 75 years), sex or hereditary factors, but there are others that do depend on us and that we could work to not increase our risk.
1. Prolong breastfeeding
Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast cancer, especially in women who breastfeed beyond the year . There are different studies that could explain the ‘protective’ effect of breastfeeding on breast cancer. Some argue that constant production of breast milk keeps breast cells ‘busy’ and therefore decreases the likelihood of cellular disruption. It is also argued that lactating women have fewer menstrual cycles; which is related to lower estrogen levels.
2. Do physical exercise
Research showing that vigorous physical activity, both in premenopause and postmenopause, is a factor that decreases the risk of breast cancer is very strong. In general, being physically active regularly is a fundamental element of a healthy lifestyle and reduces the risk of many diseases (mainly cancer, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis) , contributes to maintaining a healthy weight and also helps us with our health mental.
3. Don’t drink alcohol
Several studies show that the risk of breast cancer increases based on the amount of alcohol a woman consumes. Despite the fact that it is a very standard practice in our society, there is more and more research that makes us aware of the tremendous harmful effect that alcohol has on our body. Despite what we may hear in some announcements (clearly guided by commercial and consumer purposes), there is no amount of alcohol that we can consume and it is healthy for us. For cancer prevention, above all, the best amount of alcohol is not to consume.
4. Eat healthy
There are no miracle diets. No diet by itself cures or prevents cancer. What we do know is that a varied and balanced diet, based mainly on vegetables, fruits, legumes and cereals, among other things, will help keep your risk as low as possible.
Try to eat five servings of fruits and / or vegetables a day and remember that fruit juice, even if it is natural, is not equivalent to a whole piece.
5. Watch your weight
Especially related to the previous point, overweight and obesity are directly related to the risk of breast cancer and, even, to the risk of recurrence once diagnosed and treated. People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer compared to people of adequate weight.
Remember that your diet is a fundamental pillar in the control of your weight. Thus, those foods rich in saturated fat and sugars are the ones that will make you gain weight very quickly and, therefore, increase your risk of breast cancer.
6. Seek genetic advice
If there have been several cases of cancer in your family, especially first-degree relatives or diagnoses at very young ages, it is worth considering the possibility of attending a genetic counseling unit . In these units, a study is made of the genetic pattern of a tumor, family history, and blood study (since there are some genetic alterations that are closely related to breast cancer and other types of cancer).
If you think this may be your situation, consult your primary care physician and / or specialist doctor, who will assess the case and will refer you to the genetic counseling unit if they see fit.
7. Beware of hormone replacement therapy
Hormone therapy has been used for years to alleviate menopausal symptoms and discomfort and help prevent osteoporosis. It can be estrogen alone or combined (estrogen + progesterone). The combined, mainly, increases the risk of breast cancer from the second year of treatment . If you have any concerns or doubts about following this treatment, we recommend that you ask your doctor to assess the situation.