10 Things You Can Do To Lower Your Risk Of Being Diagnosed With Breast Cancer
Actress and activist Angelina Jolie has taken drastic and courageous measures to reduce her risk of being diagnosed with cancer. In a New York Times Op Ed piece, she announced that in February she had a voluntary double mastectomy after learning that she was at a risk of developing breast cancer through genetic testing. She chose to do the testing of the BRCA1 gene after her mother lost her life to cancer in 2007 at the age of 56. A BRCA1 mutation increases the breast cancer risk by an average of 67%. Through the testing, doctors estimated that Jolie had an 87% chance of getting breast cancer and a 50 % chance of getting ovarian cancer.
In the piece Jolie writes, “once I knew this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and minimize the risk as much as I could. I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.” She says she decided to share her story in hopes of helping women and spreading awareness of these options. It was indeed a brave thing to do and going public with it is extremely courageous and will no doubt help countless women. I applaud her.
Fortunately, genetic mutations of this sort are very rare accounting for only 5 – 8% of breast cancers. But, if as in Jolie’s case, you have a strong family history and other risk factors it’s a good idea to at least talk to your OBGYN about it and perhaps meet with a genetic counselor like she did.
The World Health Organization estimates that 200,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer next year and it is estimated that 450,000 people around the world will die of breast cancer. The good news is that survival rates are at an all-time high. Early detection, proper screening and a healthy lifestyle will help you beats the odds.
- Exercise. Just 30 minutes of exercise each day reduces your chance of getting breast cancer and exercise boosts t-cells that help your immune system work at full capacity
- Keep your body fat percentage in check. Too much fat on our bodies creates hormones, particularly estrogen, which has been found to stimulate cancer
- Garlic, turmeric and cruciferous vegetables including brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and bok choy are good breast cancer fighters because they bind estrogen in your GI tract
- A recent study showed that drinking 3 cups of green tea a day can reduce risk of breast cancer by 50%
- Steer clear of Bisphenol A. It imitates estrogen so it disrupts our endocrine system and messes with hormones. It’s been associated with many cancers including breast cancer
- Avoid parabens. Use cosmetics and sunscreen that are formulated without them because parabens mimic the body’s natural hormones increasing the risk of breast and other cancers
- Pesticides can also affect the way your hormones react so buy organic when possible and use green cleaning products
- Ask your doctor about taking the active form of vitamin D3, 1000iu’s a day may slash your risk of breast cancer up to 50%
- HER-2 is a rare but aggressive form of the disease. Another study found that eating lots of raw salad veggies dropped the risk of developing it by close to 35%
- Curb your alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day. Studies show that over imbibing on a regular basis increases the risk factor