Four Ways To Prevent Breast Cancer

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and 40,000 women in the U.S. die each year from the disease.  While there are some risk factors that are out of patients’ control -- like gender, race, age and family history -- there are lots of other steps women can take to lower other risk factors for this disease.

1. Get mammograms on schedule.

The current mammogram guidelines issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests that women get a mammogram every 1-2 years, beginning at age 40.  Current studies are evaluating whether women can start getting mammograms at age 50 instead, but it will take more research to confirm that waiting until age 50 is the best approach.

If you have a personal or family history of breast cancer, you may be due for a mammogram sooner than age 40, which should be discussed with your OB/GYN or oncologist.

2. Maintain a healthy weight.

Having a Body Mass Index (BMI) above 30 can increase your risk of breast cancer by 20-40%, because fat cells store estrogen, and estrogen fuels the most common types of breast cancer.  By attaining and maintaining a healthy weight (a BMI between 18.5-25), you can significantly lower your risk of breast cancer.

3. Exercise frequently.

In addition to helping maintain a healthy weight, exercise helps lower your risk of breast cancer because it lowers your estrogen levels and boosts your immune system.  The American Cancer Society recommends getting at least 150 minutes of cardio each week, which can lower your risk of cancer by up to 20%.

4. Limit alcohol intake.

Drinking 3 alcoholic beverages per week can increase your risk of breast cancer by 15%, and the risk goes up 10% for every extra drink you have in a day.  Limiting your intake of alcohol is a simple and practical way to reduce your breast cancer risk. If you’d like some delicious, healthy, non-alcoholic drink options, check out our recent blog about switching from cocktails to mocktails!

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At Golden Gate Urgent Care, we have six Bay Area locations, open seven days a week, to care for you! If you need us, you can make an appointment online or simply walk in.

Author
Sarah Thebarge MMSc, PA-C Sarah Thebarge earned her physician assistant degree at Yale School of Medicine, and then studied journalism at Columbia School of Journalism. She has been a physician assistant and a freelance journalist since 2004. In addition to caring for patients at Golden Gate Urgent Care, Sarah frequently volunteers her medical skills in the developing world. Her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, USA Today and National Geographic, and her blog was featured on MSNBC.com. She is the author of the memoir The Invisible Girls and the upcoming book WELL: Healing our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa. She currently lives in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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