Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

November 12, 2012

Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers among women, and awareness of it is very important.

Most, if not all women, worry about the risk of breast cancer, this worry is oftentimes made worse by the plethora of seemingly contradictory advice there is in the media on the best way to reduce the risk of breast cancer or the best way to protect yourself from it. Some of the issues highlighted include the role of alcohol, the pros and cons of a mammogram and if it is safe to drink from a plastic bottle.

A little clarity

A recent report has endeavoured to bring some clarity to current advice with clear guidance on a whole life approach to reducing the risk of developing breast cancer. The report purports to look at all the environmental factors that could possible constitute a risk of breast cancer and is, therefore, as would expect, an extremely lengthy document.

The best bits

Thankfully, a committee of experts has taken the time to go through the report, identify the most useful pieces of information and republish them in a short booklet. The whole study illustrates the difficulties of making personal health decisions based on nothing more than page after page of statistics.

Main factors

The main, most effective, factors involved in reducing the risk of breast cancer are not dissimilar to those associated with reducing the risk of any cancer -

  • Stop smoking and avoid passive smoking as far as possible

  • Reduce alcohol intake

  • Lose weight

  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables

  • Avoid excessive, inappropriate medical radiation

  • Avoid combination menopausal hormone therapy

  • Increase physical activity

Making a choice

In factors such as alcohol consumption it has been shown that even one glass of wine a day can add to a women’s risk of developing breast cancer – however, research has also shown that moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial to heart health – this study makes it clear that women need to educate themselves and make their own choices in areas which lack clarity and evidence.

The report does indicate that there is no increased risk of cancer from the use of hair dyes or mobile phones and where plastic drinks bottles are concerned there is no conclusive evidence of a link with breast cancer.

Mammograms are one medical procedure that will provide medical radiation, which is found to be a risk factor for breast cancer. However, only in large doses, which an annual mammogram is unlikely to give – it is essential that women do not avoid having this test done regularly.

In general, it is just not possible for any committee of experts to give a definitive ruling on many of the products and processes we encounter on a daily basis. An example of this is factors such as nighttime shift patterns and exposure to benzene that some studies have shown may be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer but those studies remain inconclusive.

Whilst this report does aim to give women clear advice with regard to reducing their risk of developing breast cancer it does not really fulfil that role. Even the strongest of advice has no guarantees – even in the case of smoking, which is wildly held to be something best given up as soon as possible, the report states that the link with breast cancer is limited. The final advice is that the reduction of any or all of the risk factors will vary from individual to individual and may only be a modest risk reduction.

Category: Articles