You know that it’s October when you begin to see the iconic Pink Ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness Month everywhere you go. That pink ribbon is more than just a fashion statement; it is a symbol of hope and support for breast health.
Whether you are 18 or 98, you should take your breast health seriously. 1 in 8 women (or 12%) are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, so you should do what you can now to reduce your risks in the future.
When it comes to breast cancer, early detection is key.
Here Are 9 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer (and Improve Your Overall Breast Health):
1. Touch Your Boobs Regularly
Perhaps the most important thing that you can do for your breast health is perform self-exams. You need to get up close and personal with your boobs and know their size, shape, color and feel so you can identify if there are any changes or irregularities in the breast or nipple.
If remembering to perform your self-exam might be an issue, sign up for free monthly text alerts from Bright Pink by texting the word BRIGHT to 59227. Learn more about Bright Pink and this service on their website BrightPink.org.
If you notice any changes, you may want to schedule an appointment with your women’s health provider and let them know about your observations. When it comes to your health, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
2. Set a Date With Your Doc
If you don’t have an annual appointment at your gynecologist for a women’s health exam, you are putting your breasts and your entire reproductive health at risk. And, after the age of 40, you should have a mammogram performed each year. Mammograms are much more precise than your doctor can be.
In fact, a mammogram can detect breast changes and early signs of breast cancer even several years before you or your doctor notice a change. If you haven’t seen your doc for a checkup in the past year, make a call and schedule your next women’s health exam today.
3. Stay Fit
Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to your overall health and is an important step toward preventing breast cancer. Exercise increases your blood’s circulation and allows your body to eliminate toxins. It stimulates your lymph nodes to drain and also regulates your hormones and estrogen levels – two significant factors in the development of breast cancer.
Fat cells produce estrogen and the higher your estrogen levels, the higher the risk you have of developing breast cancer. In turn, the smaller your fat cells, the less estrogen your body produces and as a result, your risk of breast cancer decreases. For optimal breast health, stay committed to a regular exercise routine.
4. Eat Healthy
Physical activity, combined with eating plenty of healthy foods, decreases your risk of breast cancer. Opt for natural and ideally organic foods, including fruits and veggies, whole grains and other non-processed foods.
Also, choose antioxidant-rich foods, such as cranberries, blueberries, beans, artichokes, potatoes and a variety of other fruits and vegetables, which are known to lower your risk of breast cancer.
You should also avoid processed foods and meats (which have been linked to cancer), canned and soy-based foods as much as possible, which often contain estrogen (which increases your risk of breast cancer).
5. Limit Alcohol
Not to be a buzz kill – pun intended – but limiting your consumption of alcohol is a strong breast cancer prevention measure. Alcohol changes the way estrogen works within your body, which can cause estrogen levels to rise within your body, which in turn increases your risk of breast cancer.
Women who have three or more alcoholic drinks per week are 15% more likely to develop breast cancer. Be mindful of how much you sip for the sake of your ta-tas.
6. Choose Natural Skincare and Beauty Products
If you haven’t made the switch from chemical-filled skincare and beauty products to their organic and natural counterparts, now is the time to do so in the name of breast cancer prevention!
Research on cancerous breast tissue after mastectomies of women with breast cancer shows a high amount of chemicals in many cases, including aluminum, parabens, and others, which can be found in everything from your shampoo, deodorant and lotions to your makeup and beauty products.
SUGGESTED READ: Avoid These 12 Toxic Chemicals Lurking in Your Beauty Products
7. Catch Some Rays
Vitamin D, which can be obtained from the sun, milk or supplements, has been shown to help reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Moderate and safe exposure to the sun, without getting a sunburn, can give your body an added boost of necessary Vitamin D. You can also take fish oil supplements or eat fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel. Whichever your preferred method of Vitamin D, it’s easy to integrate it into your breast cancer prevention routine.
8. Wear a Sports Bra
Yes, you read that right! Traditional bras restrict blood flow and lymph flow from your armpit down and across your breast bone, which negatively affects your body’s ability to remove toxins.
Many factors in the duration and fit can contribute to the body’s flow of lymphs, causing toxins to be trapped in your delicate breast tissue. An added plus is that sports bras are comfortable and supportive.
9. Chill Out
Stress is a major factor in a variety of health issues, including breast cancer (and other forms of cancer). Practice yoga, exercise, spend time in nature or meditate, and make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep.
A good night’s sleep increases your melatonin levels, which is known to regulate estrogen in your body. Relax, shut down the electronics early, and commit to a good night’s sleep every night, in the name of your health!
Honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month With Prevention
As women, we should be committed to our breasts’ health in October and throughout the entire year.
These small steps can make a world of difference when it comes to breast cancer prevention, so be mindful of the food and drinks that you consume, the amount of sleep that you clock each night, your exercise and skin care regimen, and your consistency with your doctor and self exams.
Don’t become a statistic and do what you can to decrease your risk of developing breast cancer before it’s too late. Arm yourself with knowledge to lead a healthy, happy life!
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