Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices

One of Susan G. Komen’s breast health self-awareness messages is: Make healthy lifestyle choices.

Here are five healthy lifestyle choices you can make that may reduce your risk of breast cancer.

Maintain a healthy weight

  • Gaining weight after menopause increases the risk of breast cancer.
  • Weight gain of 20 pounds or more after the age of 18 may increase your risk of breast cancer.
  • If you have gained weight, losing weight may lower your risk of breast cancer.

Add exercise into your routine

Physical activity involves the energy that you release from your body. It not only burns energy (calories) but may also help lower the risk of breast cancer. This is because exercise lowers estrogen levels, fights obesity, lowers insulin levels and boosts the function of immune system cells that attack tumors. Here is all it takes to get started:

  • If you have been inactive for a long time, are overweight, have a high risk of heart disease or some other chronic health problem, see your doctor before starting an exercise program.
  • Include physical activity into your daily routine. All you need is moderate activity – where you break a sweat – like brisk walking for 30 minutes a day.
  • Do whatever physical activity you enjoy most and gets you moving.
  • After exercising, think about how good you feel about your body and yourself. Use that feeling to motivate you the next time.

If you are already physically active, keep up the good work!

Limit alcohol intake

You may have heard about research that showed having one serving of alcohol (such as a glass of red wine) each day improves your health by reducing your risk of heart attack. That is true, but many studies have also shown that alcohol intake can increase the risk of breast cancer. In general, the more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk for breast cancer. In general, the more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk of developing breast cancer. If you drink alcohol, have less than one drink a day. Getting enough folic acid may lower the risk linked to drinking alcohol. Folic acid can be found in multivitamins, oranges, orange juice, green vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals.

Limit menopausal hormone use

For each year that combined estrogen plus progestin hormones are taken, the risk of breast cancer goes up. Once the drug is no longer taken, this risk returns to that of a woman who has never used hormones in about five to ten years. Postmenopausal hormones also increase the risk of ovarian cancer and heart disease. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.

Breastfeed, if you can

Breastfeeding protects against breast cancer, especially in premenopausal women.

Note: This information is taken from the Susan G. Komen® Facts for Life: Healthy Living resource. Susan G. Komen® is not a health care provider and does not give medical advice. The information provided in this material is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or to replace the services of a medical professional.


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