WHILE there is no cure for breast cancer, scientists and doctors alike have agreed that there are some rather basic ways to minimise the risk of being diagnosed with this very complex disease.
Breast cancer is a metastatic disease which results in an uncontrolled growth of breast cells as a result of mutations or abnormal changes in the body. All women are at risk of breast cancer, however, there are some women who are at greater risk than others.
Here are some of the ways you can reduce your risk:
1. Lose weight. The link between excessive weight and breast cancer is a very complicated one. However, we know body fat converts adrenal hormones to oestrogen. As a result of these extra fat cells, it means that there is more oestrogen in the body which contributes to the development of breast cancer.
2. Breastfeed your baby. The "breast is best" policy is good advice from all angles, even when it comes to minimising the risk of breast cancer.
"Breastfeeding has been shown to decrease one's risk of breast cancer, especially when it is done for over a one-year period. One of the suggested reasons for this is the fact that breastfeeding lowers the total number of periods a woman has, as is the case with pregnancy," said radiographer Yvonne Watson.
3. Be cautious with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). While HRT has been found to do a lot of good for menopausal women, studies have shown that it increases a woman's risk to developing breast cancer. Those being treated with HRT were also found to be more likely to have breast density changes shown on their mammograms.
4. Minimise alcohol consumption. "A high consumption of alcohol is believed to be linked to breast cancer, because this beverage increases the levels of some hormones, such as oestrogen, testosterone and insulin in the body. Unusually high levels of oestrogen, especially, increases the risk of breast cancer," explained Watson.
5. Consume more fibre. High dietary fibre is good for overall health and is especially important in reducing your risk of breast cancer. Having high fibre cereal for breakfast or switching from white bread to brown are great ways to incorporate more fibre in the diet.
6. Get physically active. "Exercising at least four to five times a week has been shown to decrease hormonal levels and help lower breast cancer risks," said Watson. It has been concluded in various researches that women with sedentary lifestyles during their reproductive years had three times the risk of breast cancer compared to those who were physically active.
7. Increase intake of Omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seeds, walnuts, mackerel, and salmon are excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which, among other things, also protects against the formation of breast tumours.