3 Ways to Help Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer

3 Ways to Help Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer
Claire Kowalchik
What makes breast cancer so scary is that it feels like a disease over which you have so little control, but the truth is there are several powerful steps you can take to help protect your health.
The most important of these is to get a mammogram regularly. Early detection dramatically improves your chance of beating breast cancer. If cancer is caught before it has spread to nearby lymph nodes or beyond the breast, a woman’s 5-year survival rate is 99 percent. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that you get a mammogram every year beginning at age 40.
Make sure you don’t miss a mammogram. Take advantage of the ACS’s free Breast Screening Reminder Tool. Go to their website, fill out a brief form, and on the first day of your birth month, the ACS will e-mail you a reminder of the screening tests that you should get based on your age and other factors.
In the meantime, take action to prevent breast cancer from springing up in the first place. The ACS recommends these three top strategies.
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Research shows that women who are overweight, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) higher than 25, are at greater risk for developing breast cancer than women who maintain a healthy weight. Now a new study that analyzed data from more than 67,000 women aged 50 to 79 over several years finds that as weight increases so does breast cancer risk, with women at a BMI above 35 having an 80 percent higher risk than the average woman.
Action plan: Make a priority of maintaining a healthy weight by consuming the right amount of calories for your body and lifestyle from vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains; exercise regularly; and weigh yourself daily to prevent pounds from sneaking up on you.
2. Exercise Regularly
More and more research shows that regular physical activity may reduce your risk of breast cancer and lower the chance of recurrence, say experts at breastcancer.org. And you already know that exercise helps you manage a healthy weight and can help prevent heart disease and diabetes and confers many other benefits such as stress relief and a brighter mood. If physical activity isn’t a priority in your weekly routine, make it one.
Action plan: At Curves you get both a total-body strength workout plus cardio in only 30 minutes, and with a variety of classes to choose from—Balance, Arms-Legs-Core, the Curves Circuit with Jillian Michaels, the new Dance and Tone Class, and more*—there’s never a dull moment. Pen three or four Curves workouts into your calendar every week.
3. Limit Alcoholic Drinks
Studies consistently show that women who have more than 1 alcoholic drink a day have a greater risk for breast cancer, according to the ACS. Researchers don’t know the physiology behind this connection but go on to say that even 3 to 6 glasses of wine has been linked to a slight increase in cancer.
One drink equals the following:
  • 12 ounces of beer (153 calories)
  • 5 ounces of wine (125 calories)
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (96 calories before it’s mixed into a cocktail)
Of course, eliminating alcoholic beverages can help your weight-management efforts as well.
Action plan: Choose sparkling water with lime, lemon, or fresh berries instead.
Don’t leave your life up for grabs. Take charge and stand strong against breast cancer with regular mammograms and healthy living.
*Scheduled at participating locations only.
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